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.
Chakali Mounika received threats from her family after she refused to marry. While her marriage has been stopped with the help of MV Foundation, her father now refuses to allow her to go to school or leave the house.
My mother died of cancer when I was in Class VII. My father did not remarry and became an alcoholic. I have an elder sister who is married and a younger brother. My aunts and other family members support us. When I completed Class X, they wanted to fix my marriage. I wanted to study and requested help to stop this. But I was threatened by my family members. There was a campaign against child marriage in our village. I saw street plays and even attended meetings. I decided that I should study and not get married.
We were told to call 1098 if we were in any trouble. I called Childline. The MRO called MVF and they contacted me and I spoke about wanting to study further. The sarpanch was informed of the marriage process. He advised my father not to go ahead as there could be a case against him. But my father persisted with the engagement. The case went to the police. My father threatened to commit suicide in his drunken state. The sarpanch assured him that he would keep the police away and counseled him. The boy’s family were upset that they were not informed about my age. My marriage has now been stopped. But my father now does not allow me to go to school or even out of the house. He brought another match and I called Childline again for help. My father was made to give an undertaking in writing that he would not get me married until I attained 18 years of age. But he is adamant about not sending me to school’.
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’