To Stop Child Marriage – Is It Women’s Duty Only?

Supriti Dhar:

Supriti Dhar

What will the nation do with the feminist movement- which is rather fragmented instead of being united? This question has been on my mind for few days. A handful of us featured about the incident; but those who work with childhood, have not come forward for a long time. Why is that? Is it just not important? Or will it require funds? Can we not save a girl’s life without fund?

Suppose, ‘Child marriage could not be prevented’,-this headline has appeared across Newspapers All right, the marriage could not be stopped; still why push the girl to the abyss? The people involved in this are within the reach of law; why not bring them under trial? They should be punished. And those who are giving up on grounds that the marriage has already taken place; let me tell you, it does not matter in the long run. The girl should be protected from this marriage, her future should be saved.

When we got the news that in the capital Khilgaon a girl was married to a man who is three times older than her, many of us resorted to keyboard activism; clamoring for justice. But a friend of ours dived into the field with her all her efforts to prevent this marriage, risking her own safety in the process. She had been badly abused.. But if we had supported in her effort; they (the people involved in the marriage) would not have dared to use such a thing, and we could have really saved the girl from the marriage.

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The only promise we managed to obtain from the parents is that the girl will not consummate her marriage until she is 18, but nobody can assure that in the darkness of the night, she will not be pushed into her husband’s bed by her parents, and that she will not get pregnant or secretly be sent away to Italy to live with her husband who is old enough to be her father! If the people who have been working to prevent child marriage for a long time, they  had given a bit of effort, besides saving the girl collectively, the punishment of the suspects could also have been ensured ensured. “But she is already” it’s a very nonsense argument; the girl’s whole life is awaiting her. Today’s one forced signature can not be a regulator for her whole life.

Those who have taken the pen against the ‘special provisions’ of the Child Marriage Detention Act at different times, have gone on the streets, if they fail to solve this one incident, then there is no reason for our movement. If the organizations or organizations that appear on the spot after the incident, but are unable to take action to prevent the incident, then why do these movements even exist?

I am repeating again and again, a number of actors are involved here. The passport office, the City Corporation’s fake birth registration certificate, the mother’s father and the man, as well as his parents- all of them need to be brought under the trial for committing this act. It is possible to shake the foundation of this prevalent practice of child marriages through fake documents only by one instance by achieving justice.

In Dinajpur, a girl has committed suicide due to child marriage; media coverage has been widespread. We do not want to spread the news, unless we can prevent repetition of such unfortunate incidents. Why the media  always waits for events to happen? Don’t they have any social responsibility? Why are not they coming forward today? Everyone is busy with ‘politics’; when do you think of the general people, especially women? That is the proof that we are the people who are the “others”, who continue to be neglected.

Again, those who say that the marriage of the girl could not be stopped, so let’s face the proposal to wait until it is 18, they are wrong. When she becomes 18, her ‘husband’ will not remain 37- he will be older. And today’s one mistake will damage rest of her life. Why would we allow it? Only because she signed on a piece of paper? Does that piece of paper hold more value than a life?

Can not we say that in a chorus, that we do not accept this as a marriage; that this marriage is not valid? Can we not break this marriage and save a child? And those who are involved in the whole process, all of them they should be punished so that if anywhere else somebody is plotting a child marriage thinks twice before breaking the law.

Lets think now, what can we do? We all should  go to that area, go to the girl’s house, go to the boy’s house, go to the city corporation, go to the police station. Come on!  Let us take action collectively. This is not only the responsibility of women activists but it is the responsibility of all. This is not just  personal, it is personal as well as political. So we have to approach this issue as not just a trivial instance, but as a social danger. Everyone has to participate in this movement. Everyone!

The article, which is originally written in Bengali, was published into Women Chapter’s Bengali site on April 18, 2017.

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