Kiran, 17, determined to tackle child marriage in India
Kiran, 17, and her friends spent most of their lives in the shadows. Often neglected in favour of their brothers, they watched most girls in their small, conservative village in Jharkand in India get married and then be confined to their homes. Most of the girls Kirin and her friends knew did not ever think of studying or working as their elders felt that this would keep them from their “duty” as homemakers.
A few years ago, Plan International began working in Jharkand and developed clubs for adolescent girls. These clubs served as safe spaces for young girls to share their thoughts and experiences, to engage with their peers on issues they faced, and to receive training on how to tackle these issues.
Through discussions, a pressing concern soon emerged: forced and early marriage. Kiran and her friends were determined to put an end to this issue and began advocating with their neighbours on equality, gender discrimination and education, among other things.
Through these activities, Kiran came across a 16-year-old girl who was forcibly removed from school and married against her will. Kiran and her friends approached the girl’s parents, who refused to listen and cooperate, even forbidding them from visiting their daughter.
The girls approached the local government to take immediate action and stop the wedding. This situation resonated with the entire village, and culminated in a stunning achievement: an announcement made by the village elders, that no underage girl in their community would ever be forced to marry again. Through their actions, Kiran and her friends have given 957 young girls in their village and all future generations a new lease on life. “This is only the beginning,” says Kiran.