Jodhpur: Rekha Kumari's bedroom is like that of any 20-year-old. She has college books scattered around, a reminder of the college exams she has just taken. Dressed in an onion pink salwaar-kameez, she still appears tense. It's not the results of her 2nd year BA exams that worry her. She has received threats from others in her home town, Peepar, in Rajasthan's Jodhpur district.
Rekha's decision to reject her child marriage has provoked hostility. Her parents support her decision to move court and have her marriage annulled. When she was five, her grandfather got her engaged to a nine-year-old boy, related to a man he knew.
Rekha was married to him in 1997. She has met him just twice since then
Rekha says she cannot imagine a life with him. He is a school dropout, and rides buses as an assistant to the driver. "He drinks a lot and he's constantly threatening my daughter that he will not only abduct Rekha but even her mother. And since he is hardly educated he has no professional future," says Rekha's father, Ram Lal Chaudhary.
"When I go to college, he follows me, abuses me and says he will get me abducted if I don't marry him," she says.
It's not just their incompatibility that is a matter of concern. Despite strict laws, child marriages continue to take place in this part of Rajasthan; families are expected to honour them.
The local panchayat is pressuring Rekha's family to give up its court case. "We have warned the people in the village not to pressurize this family. We have specifically warned the boy and his family not to try to pressurize Rekha or her family. Despite our warnings, if anyone indulges in any kind of criminal activity to force them, we will take severe action," says Om Prakash, the head of the local police station.
Story first published:
June 19, 2012 10:23 IST