Breaking the bondage of Child Marriage: Story of an ordinary girl to Rajasthan state Garima Award Winner

jashoda gametiJashoda’s father died when she was just 5 yrs old. She lived with her mother and four brothers. Jashoda went to school till 5th class after that she dropped out from study. She had child marriage and it was not in her conscience, till she reached the age of 13.  She wanted to spend her childhood days happily with her mother.  But, one day her in laws came and took her to with them. She did not want to go with her in laws. Even her mother, the only support system of her life could not stand with her because at the end Jashoda was mere a burden for her four brothers and mother had no voice in the family.

She went with her in laws and lived in a house where everybody was just strangers for her.   She had not spent a single day in the house without crying because she was treated merely as servant. Her father in law used to verbally abuse her and instigate his son to beat Jashoda. While facing all these if she ever went to meet her mother her husband or father in law would go to her mother’s house and humiliate her mother and beat Jashoda. While going through this one day she decided to say “No”, and asked for divorce. But, asking for divorce by a girl of Bhil community is not a door to freedom. It brings more torture in her and her family’s life. According, the norm of the community girl’s family has to pay money to groom’s family if girl ask for divorce. Similarly, her father in law had demanded one lakh rupees from her as a penalty for asking divorce. Jashoda’s brothers started blaming her and asked her to go to her in laws house. But, she was adamant and did not want to go with her in laws.

She was all alone in her fight, even her mother was helpless to help her. One day she met a member of the Rajsamand Mahila Manch (RMM) in her village during their monthly meeting. She met them and shared her story. Her meeting with them had completely changed her life. She was given confidence that she could nullify her child marriage as per the law. RMM helped her to file for divorce in the court. Her in laws were not aware about the strength of RMM. The case ran for two years in the court, she is legally separated from her husband and got eleven thousand rupees as alimony amount. During this struggle period she was given unconditional support from the RMM.

She says,” today she is a different girl. She had no idea what freedom means. She had courage to fight but had no guidance to fight her battle. She is grateful to RMM for giving her a new life.”   Although she is working as a construction labourer but still she feels much empowered as she is living her life on her own terms,she wears what she likes, she does not have to put veil, she takes all the decision of her life and that is what freedom means for her. Her courage was recognised by the Rajasthan Ministry of women and child development. She was awarded with Garima award of 2016 and given 25thousand as prize money for nullifying her child marriage.She was also asked to take charge as a minister in the ministry of WCD and approve the scheme of distributing 10,500 mobile phones to Anganvadi workers in Rajasthan. Jashoda was overwhelmed with the acknowledgement of her struggle and love and support that she received by people.

But her fight against the patriarchy did not end here. While giving this interview she conveyed that she will reenrol herself in the school and continue her studies. And she will marry with a man who also accepts her mother in his house. She does not want to leave her mother with her brothers who do not respect women. She wants to live her life on her own terms. She believes that in her community women suffer a lot in the name of Nata system. The women going through Nata system never receives respect. Hence, she wants to have a proper marriage with a man of her choice and live all the rituals of her marriage and not go for Nata system.