THE BIHAR ‘ICON’ HAD ONCE EVEN ADDRESSED THE UN ASSEMBLY OVER THIS ISSUE
PATNA: A teenaged girl from Bihar who strongly spoke against child marriages prevalent in the countryside at the UN forum has herself become a “child bride”, raising a big question mark over state government’s much flaunted campaign against this social evil.
Poonam Kumari who hails from Khorhar village under Bihta block in Patna district was tied to nuptial knots only last month, much to the shock of social activists who were impressed with her campaign against the social evil. Poonam was enrolled in class tenth when she was sent to her in-laws’ home in bridal attire.
Poonam who hails from the socially-backward Dalit class had earned the laurels of the organizations launching social awareness as well as the state government when she had run away from her home after coming to know that her parents were planning to marry her. At that time, she was 11-year-old and was studying in class sixth.
“I ran away from my home because my parents were planning to get me married. If I hadn’t run away I would be living a miserable life just like my two sisters,” was how she was quoted as saying in the local media then.
This made her a star overnight as she got a call from the UN in 2013 to raise her voice for ending child marriages based on her own struggles and experience. However, her struggle ended soon as she herself became a child bride last month.
“The news is indeed very shocking. The girl who launched a campaign against child marriage has herself become its victim,” said prominent social activist Sudha Vergese.
“She was married and sent to in-laws’ home when she went to her home during festival vacation last month. I got the news late,” she revealed. The victim girl was staying at her hostel in Patna.
The development comes amid the state government launching a vigorous campaign against dowry and child marriages last month on October 2 to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and also announcing to form a human chain against the twin social evils in January next year.
Child marriages remain a matter of serious concern in Bihar notwithstanding the laws against it with the percentage of under-age marriages touching as high as 50 per cent in 340 blocks, says a new study conducted by an NGO Gender Alliance.
“While the average for Bihar (in child marriage) is 39.1 per cent, our study found that there are 340 blocks where this percentage is above the state’s average. The highest probability of child marriage is in Ghoswari block under Patna district with 66.81 per cent, while the lowest probability is 11.81 per cent for Lahladpur block under Saran district,” said the report released in September this year.
Courtesy: GULF NEWS