Face­book proof helps an­nul child mar­riage

The Herald (South Africa) - - WORLD -

A YOUNG In­dian wo­man has proved in court she had been il­le­gally mar­ried off as a mi­nor af­ter sub­mit­ting ev­i­dence from her hus­band’s Face­book page.

Sushila Bish­noi, 19, ap­pealed to a court in Ra­jasthan state to dis­solve her un­der­age mar­riage, an il­le­gal but rife tra­di­tion in many parts of ru­ral In­dia.

But her hus­band de­nied the cou­ple had ever been be­trothed, threat­en­ing to scut­tle her case.

The teenager, aided by an ac­tivist, trawled her hus­band’s Face­book ac­counts un­til they found the smok­ing gun that proved their mar­riage had oc­curred when she was un­der­age.

“Many of his friends had posted con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages on his Face­book page,” Kriti Bharti, an ac­tivist whose Sarathi Trust char­ity has an­nulled many child mar­riages in Ra­jasthan, said.

“The court ac­cepted the ev­i­dence and de­clared the mar­riage in­valid.”

The cou­ple were mar­ried at a se­cret wed­ding cer­e­mony in Barmer district in 2010 when both were just 12 years old.

“I wanted to study, but my fam­ily and my in-laws wanted me to live with a drunk­ard,” Bish­noi said.

“It was about life and death, and I chose to live.”

She ran away from home to a shel­ter, where she met Bharti, who helped her be­gin le­gal pro­ceed­ings to dis­solve the union.

In­dia’s high­est court on Wed­nes­day de­clared sex with a mi­nor akin to rape even if the cou­ple were mar­ried, a land­mark rul­ing that closed a le­gal loop­hole around child mar­riage.

Nearly half of all girls in South Asia marry be­fore 18 years of age. – AFP

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