Standing Up Against Child Marriage
Manisha’s story is no different than that of many young girls in her small village in India. She had to leave school early—after finishing the third grade—to help her mother take care of the
household. And like many girls in her village, she was expected to marry early through an arrangement dictated by her parents.
When Manisha’s parents identified a boy for her to marry from a nearby village, she was just 17 years old. The boy had not been formally educated and worked as a laborer like her parents. Manisha did not want to get married at such an early age, especially to someone she didn’t even know and who had no education.
That’s what prompted Manisha to turn to her peer group and its educators for help. After hearing Manisha’s distress, the group sought further guidance from a counselor trained by EngenderHealth in the area of adolescent health and development. The counselor visited Manisha’s village, meeting with peer educators and influential community members to discuss the ill effects of child marriage and urge the group to take action to save Manisha’s life by confronting Manisha’s parents. It’s important to note that this EngenderHealth-supported effort follows the principle “Do No Harm” to ensure interactions with families remain sensitive to this subject and other long-held cultural norms.
In the end, Manisha’s mother agreed to delay her daughter’s marriage. And today, Manisha continues to help other girls in her village stand up against early marriages. She says, “I could not complete my studies, but I think all young boys and girls should focus on their education.”