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Escaping an early, forced marriage: one girl’s journey

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

Girl Child Marriage 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.”

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

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