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Malda woman’s fight against child marriage

Even though, child marriages are unpopular, it still remains a social menace, which is rampant in rural areas. While the local administration looks incompetent at curbing this menace, an unassuming 21-year-old girl from a remote village in Malda has taken the mantle to eradicating this menace. Meet Anjali Burman, a resident of Balarampur village, a third-year student in Malda College.

Not only did Anjali manage to save herself from child marriage, she also managed to rescue seven other girls in the age group of 12 to 14 from the clutches of child marriage. Anjali's father is a daily labourer earning wages, who passed away five months back. Anjali has a younger brother who studies in a local school. The family is run by Anjali's mother as a bonded labourer. At the age of 15 , Anjali was told that she has be married off as her father will not be able to take care of the family any more. Anjali's marriage was also fixed. The family was putting pressure on her to get married early according to the community''s tradition.

But after she resisted her marriage, she did not sit idle. Anjali formed a small group with her friends in her village. Since then whenever, she used to get any news of a minor girl being married off, she with her friends used to reach the spot and they tried to convince the family members. However, Anjali always informed police and administration in resisting the marriages.

"In our locality, girls are married off at an early age. My parents also wanted to marry me off, but I resisted it. From my childhood, I had nutured dreams that I would be educated and would be financially independent. After I resisted my marriage, I always thought there were other girls like me in the area. And I know that how it is a difficult task for a village girl to resist the marriage. The whole village and the entire community stands against the girl in such cases. I took oath that would try my best not to allow any of the minor girls to be married," she said.

"Initially, I had faced difficulty from the villagers when I tried resist any minor girls' marriage in my village. But gradually, the villagers started supporting me. I got help from the police and local administration as well. The practice of child marriage might have become more unpopular, but it is still rampant in this areas," Anjali added.

Anjali imarried on her own condition five months back. But she is still continuing with her studies. "I want to complete my studies. I want to be admitted in an university and complete my post graduation. I dream of being a government officer and work for our state," she added.

Read the original article on Indian Express.com.