Santadevi Meghwal, 19, said at a press conference in Jodhpur on Monday that she will not move to the home of her in-laws, where her husband, now 28, lives.
“When I turned 16, I came to know that I had been married off as a child. But I don’t even remember that marriage, so I don’t want to honor it . I want it annulled,” she said.
Santadevi’s family lived in a small village when she was married to him as a baby; the groom was just nine years old. His parents want the marriage to be honoured; allegedly in response to their complaint, the village council or panchayat has asked Santa Devi’s family to pay a Rs. 16 lakh fine. So the young woman has approached an NGO for help.
“First, we will try and have the marriage annulled by mutual consent by talking to the boy’s family; we are also trying to identify the people who held the caste panchayat and slapped a fine on the girls family so that we can name them in the police complaint,” said Kriti Bharti, who works with the NGO.
Home Minister Gulab Chand Katariya has pledged the government’s assistance if Santadevi’s family files a police case.
Several years ago, Santa Devi’s family moved to Jodhpur where her father works as a mason. The teen is in her second year at a prestigious city college. “I want to study further and become a teacher,” she said.