Child marriage: Girl married off at 11 moves court, files annulment petition

Jodhpur: Santadevi, who decided to annul her marriage which was solemnised in her infancy, today moved a family court here to file for an annulment petition.

"I was little scared while coming to the court as my in-laws threatened me this morning that they would not let me reach the court. They told me that they would take me away forcibly with the help of villagers," she said.

The court, while allowing the petition, has issued summon to the woman's husband Sanwalaram, as he did not accompany her and has listed the matter for May 25.

"I have trust in court," she said tersely. The cast panchayat of her village Rohichan Khurd in Luni tehsil of Jodhpur had not only threatened to ostracise the family but also slapped a penalty of Rs 16 lakh, if she proceeded with annulment. "I am with my daughter and want to see her happy. I want her to study further," said Padmaram, her father.

"Now we are preparing to file a case against the members of panchayat and community for harassing Santa and abetting the child marriage," said Kriti Bharti of Saarathi Trust, who has been assisting her in annulment. The state government has also intervened in the matter and obtained the details of the case.

Deputy Director of the Social Justice and Empowerment, Anil Vyas said that the local police has been directed to protect the family.  "After her complaint about the diktat of the cast panchayat, we have been trying to counsel the members of community and panchayat and if they do not back off, we will proceed accordingly", Vyas said.

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