19-year old Urma Bishnoi from Jambanagar of Kaparda village of Jodhpur, India wants to go to school and live her best life, but there’s a major hurdle she has to surpass.
She’s been married for over 18 years. Yes. 18 years. She was married at 10 months old by her family, to a boy in her village.
“I do not accept child marriage. I was married when I was just 10 months. I want to study,” Bishnoi said, according to The Hindustan Times.
Bishnoi is seeking to annul the marriage and has received support from the Saarthi Trust, an India-based nonprofit that works to fight child marriage and establish children and women’s rights.
“Bishnoi is under tremendous mental pressure due to her in-laws. A case has been filed in the court for the annulment of the child marriage,” said Dr Kriti Bharti, a rehabilitation psychologist and managing trustee of Saarthi Trust, who has helped annulled over 30 child marriages in India.
Bishnoi’s in-laws are threatening her and her family, saying if the marriage is annulled, they cut off their noses and ears. Some parts of the society are also threatening to ostracise the family if the annulment goes through.
“Efforts are being made for annulment of child marriage and her rehabilitation. On the other hand, her in-laws and caste panchayats are constantly pressurising and terrorising Urma and her family to take back the case,” Bharti said.
In India, 23 million girls were married before their 18th birthdays. Approximately 27% of children under the age of 18 are married and in Bishnoi’s home state of Rajasthan, the number is 35%.