Encouraging signs of girls trying to break shackles of outdated customs in Rajasthan

Depicting encouraging signals of girls trying to break the shackles of outdated customs, two instances of young women repudiating their childhood marriages in defiance of diktats of the caste elders have come up in Rajasthan. In both the cases, the community members have allegedly threatened the girls' families.

Twenty-year-old Rekha Kumari, a resident of Peepar in Jodhpur district, has approached the Sub-Divisional Officer with a request to annul her marriage solemnised 15 years ago with a boy four years elder to her. She sought protection from the village panchayat members who, she said, were threatening her family.

According to police sources, the village panchayat threatened to expel her family from the locality and warned of heavy fines if she did not accept her childhood marriage and start living with the man, who incidentally is also threatening to abduct her.

Rekha, presently studying at the Government College in Peepar, was married off by her grandfather when she was only five years old. Her ‘gauna' (shift to in-laws' house) is yet to be performed.

Illiterate man

After her grandfather's recent death, the in-laws have been asking Rekha's parents to send her to their house.

The girl is not willing to live with the illiterate man who she says has no future.

Even as Rekha has cited incompatibility as the reason for her desire to reject her childhood marriage, which in any case was illegal, the boy follows her to the college, abuses her and has allegedly threatened to abduct her if does not agree to come with him.

Police have provided security to Rekha and her family members and issued a warning to the panchayat not to put any kind of pressure on the family.

The boy and his family have been specifically warned to keep away from the girl.

In another instance, 23-year-old Santara, a resident of Manpuria village in Dausa district, has refused to go back to her husband's home, saying she was married in childhood when did not know anything about nuptial relations. She has lodged a complaint with the police accusing her community elders of pressurising her to live with the man.

Panchayat pressure

The school teacher, married to one Dinesh Meena 14 years ago, has been provided police security. She stated in her complaint that the local panchayat had issued an order to her to return to her husband's house even though she was unwilling to treat her marriage as valid.

The cases of educated girls married in childhood seeking to nullify their relationship for different reasons have been reported with regularity, particularly in western Rajasthan districts, during the past few months.

Earlier this month, Shobha Chaudhary moved the Rajasthan High Court in Jodhpur for dissolution of her childhood marriage and alleged that the caste panchayat had slapped a fine of Rs.9 lakh on her family for her “act of defiance.”

Similarly, a minor girl reported to the district authorities her family's plan to marry her off on the “Akha Teej” festival.