Saving the baby brides
They should be learning to take their first steps or playing with dolls or toy trains. Instead these babies are being paired off in secret by their parents to get married. According to a recent Unicef report, a staggering 40 per cent of the world’s child marriages occur in India. The government took action, banning men younger than 21 and women under 18 from getting wed, but that has just driven families determined to marry their babies and toddlers off for political and financial gain further underground.
The children have no idea they have been married off until they’re whisked away to a secret ceremony to solemnise the marriage as soon as they come of age. These stolen brides and grooms had no one to turn to until recently. But Kriti Bharti, a 26-year-old social worker, has made it her mission to save the child brides and grooms and annul their marriages, even though it means her life is constantly in danger.
“Millions of children in India are married by their families when they’re still learning to crawl and walk,” she told Friday. “And the families are very good at keeping it a secret. Death threats have become part of my life now, I accept it as part of the job.” So far Kriti has helped to annul more than 150 child marriages, and has won an award for her work. Read her incredibly brave story on page 18 and let me know what you think of that and the rest of the issue. Enjoy!