POSTED November 6, 2017
Escaping an early, forced marriage: one girl’s journey
How Usha was protected from being forced into a marriage with her uncle
By Lipi Jobson, CCFC communications manager, India
India has the highest number of child brides in the world, in fact, UNICEF reports an estimated 47 percent are married before their eighteenth birthday.
Three years ago, 18-year-old Usha (pictured) came close to being a part of that statistic. What made the difference is a child-protection program helping 4,746 children and youth, like Usha, understand their rights, report violations and take action.
Usha wanted to tell her story:
“When my mother told me I had to marry my 31-year-old uncle [17 years older than me], I cried and shouted. My mother reacted very badly and had relatives come to convince me,” she recalls. “I was absolutely scared of anybody coming to my house.
Right away, I told a child-protection committee member, left a note in the complaint box and spoke to CCFC’s local partner, SPEECH. The issue was brought to the attention of the government child helpline SPEECH runs [and promotes].
Immediately a team from the Social Welfare Board, Anti-Human Trafficking police unit and SPEECH came to talk to me and my family.
Since then, I’ve been in a hostel so I can continue my education safe from child marriage. Now I’m going to college for nursing.
I am grateful to Canadians for their support. I am empowered because of the [child-protection] program. It has built up my resilience in fight[ing] injustice. I want to become an advocate pleading for girls like me.”