Friday, June 10, 2011

The Song of Hope - Brides to be

At 6, what do you remember of yourself- A pink frock, a lollypop, and unlimited dreams? Some moments caught in the frame, you and your mommy drenched in the rain, the corner ice-cream parlor where Dad would take you every Saturday, your brother and the comparisons, the tug of war for the toys and chocolates, gas balloons that never stayed on the ground, the pink and blue water-bottle you carried with pride, the new copies and books you covered with the paper brown and the night counting stars in the sky. At 8, things would have changed but not drastically. At 13, you would have thought about being beautiful and at 16, about a career. At 20, about college and life and may be at 22 about marriage.

Chronology of these events is not the same for all of us, at least not the same for girls in rural India, Yemen and parts of Afghanistan. The story of Nujood Ali had shaken the world in 2008. Nujood, 10 year old Yemini girl, walked into the court of a populous city of Yemen and demanded divorce from her husband. At 10, she had been married, had sexual intercourse, bled and lost her virginity to a man 3 times as old she was. With the help of media and law, Nujood got her divorce and is now living with her father’s family, who knowingly forced this marriage on her. There are 10,000 Nujoods who are born and married every month in the most urban and highly rural cities of Asia. Some are caught, some are not and some bleed their way to death.
In Yemen, Child brides are a part of the custom that is used to settle disputes, grant favors and flourish businesses. Girls of 8 and 5 are married with men as old as 30. I read an article some days ago in Times of India about the increasing cases of marriage of old Arabic with young poor Hyderabad local girls. It’s a means of providing security to the girl, who if not married at an early age can fall prey to some callous bastard’s sexual needs. However the concern here is - Is marriage between a 60 year old man and a 13 year old girl not a legal rape. How secure a girl is when she does not even know what is going to happen to her at the first night of the marriage? She doesn’t even understand when a new life starts breeding in her not so old body. Finally, she realizes something is wrong just before she bleeds to death producing more female offspring who carry on this tradition of security.

Scientifically, a girl attains puberty between 10 and 14. One of the main physical changes of puberty is the growth and development of the sex organs – the parts of the body that are used to have sex and make babies. But at 14 also there is no emotional and physical stability in most female’s body to give birth. The fact is - At 14, most of the girls married at 8, are a mother of 2 or 3 children. Pregnancy and childcare takes place in unhealthy and unhygienic environment for most of the girls, leading to the development of many diseases, prolong bleeding and repeated failures and miscarriages. All the more shocking is the fact that the girls shy away from telling anyone what they are going through because they feel shy. An utter neglect and lack of education forces many of these girls to continue bearing the torture till the time their bodies give up.

Can we feel sad or can we do something? I think we should and we must do something, as far as I can see education is the only medium, the only channel, the only path and the only hope. Even if each of us can educate 1 mother of each of those brides to be, I believe there will be a change, a subtle but significant in its own way.

The other day I was sitting and chatting with my mother who was again asking me about the same old question of marriage (I am 25 and hence I owe some explanation as to why I do not want to marry now). I smiled and said ‘I am not ready, and there are still some career commitments I need to fulfill’. She smiled back and said ‘your choice’.

‘Give her the right to choose, give her the right to decide
Give her the freedom to live and if needed fight.’


  1. Sad. There's so much pain in this world. Yet the people in power yell and shout over the trivial, and turn blind at what really needs their attention. Disgusting.

  2. Kudos to the writing. After reading,i felt choked.The exploitation of young innocence is really ugly,disgusting, painful...
    Few days back i came across a book-
    "In The Name Of Honour". Its about a horrific rape of Mukhtar Mai. She was dictated by custom to kill herself but she showed the courage to defy the meekness of being a woman and took the rapists to the court...and that ordeal is "The Song of Hope" for me...Ur strong words is a message to fight against the forlorn hope in the ever repressive world. Kudos again!