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Uttar Pradesh teen fights child marriage, turns role model

LUCKNOW: A 17-year-old, who did not give in to parental pressures and refused to get married before she reached the legal age, has become the poster girl against child marriage in her village, Madhisa Ratan, in Uttar Pradesh.

The teenager, Ruchi, had warned her parents that she would lodge an FIR against them if they forced her to get married against her wishes. “Only the girl is on the receiving end of all problems of an underage marriage. While others would just sympathise, I would be the one to bear the complications all my life. So I stood up in rebellion,” said the Class XI student . Ruchi said that when her parents did not pay heed to her wishes, she warned them. “I told them they would have to pay a penalty of Rs 1 lakh; this was beyond their capacity. So I was saved,” she said.

Yamini Gupta of Gehdo village also saved herself from an early marriage by using her knowledge of law. “The fear of a police case deterred my family,” she said. The two girls, among others, shared their experiences at a programme to felicitate 11 crusaders against child marriage. “The girls are surely role models as around 10% girls in UP get married before their legal age of 18, pushing them in a vicious cycle of poor health because of subsequent child bearing,” said a chief functionary of NGO Vatsalya. The cases explain the heartening decline in number of girls in UP who get married before legal age.
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