It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.
Jambula Prasanna, was studying in KGBV when on her return home for vacation learned that her parents were fixing her marriage. Wanting to continue her studies, Prasanna told her teachers who informed Childline to prevent the marriage.
I was in Class X and studying in KGBV. When I went home for vacation, I was surprised that my parents were making arrangements for my marriage. My father drinks a lot and fights with the family about getting his three daughters married. I was so badly beaten by him, that I agreed. When I went back to KGBV, my friends found me tense and crying. My hostel warden enquired and I told her that my marriage was fixed, but I wanted to study and did not want to get married. The teachers informed the headmistress and called Childline. She also advised Childline to not to take up the matter in school as it would disturb studies.
Childline and the local officials went home and it seems my parents denied that there was a proposal to get me married. The school principal cautioned my parents against coming to school and taking me home. My mother also said that my father would get drunk and beat and abuse her. My parents were taken to the police station and gave an undertaking that they would not get me married until I completed 18 years of age.
One night my father came home drunk and beat up my mother badly. Unable to bear the violences she committed suicide. I was so sad and went home to meet my sisters, but returned to school to complete the exam. I passed well with a very good grade. I am now studying Class XI and staying in a hostel. My mother would have been so happy if she knew that I am doing well in studies. My two younger sisters who were going to the local school are now taking care of the house and cooking. All of them want to continue studying, but out of concern for my father, do not want to join KGBV. They said ’what will happen to us if our father also falls ill and dies?’
Narrative provided by M Venkatarangaiya Foundation in their report ‘…and they never lived happily ever after. The battle for justice goes on: Voices of married girls in Telangana’