POSTED June 23, 2022
How one teen stood up for her rights and refused to be married
Find out how Geetha’s bravery changed the lives of her peers in her village in India
By Siju Mathew, monitoring, evaluation, learning and knowledge sharing officer, India
Fifteen-year-old Geetha chose a tough path. She stood up for her rights and refused to be married as a child. Her bravery sparked change in her tribal community in India.
It’s now been more than three years since a forced marriage has taken place in Geetha’s village of Musallamadugu.
“Now in our village, all of the children go to school,” Geetha proudly declares. “Before, due to economic problems, few transportation options and an unsafe path through forested areas on a six-kilometre walk to school, that didn’t happen.”
To stop her parents from arranging her marriage, Geetha needed help. It was difficult to go up against long-standing tradition and her parents’ decision to have her marry young. But thanks to Children Believe, Geetha, and other girls like her, have been able to follow their heart, continue their education and pursue their dreams.
Musallamadugu is a remote forest-based tribal village in southern India. Geetha’s parents are illiterate and rely on daily labour work. They’d always followed tradition, which calls for a girl of 15 to leave school and get married.
In seeking a way out, Geetha joined a youth group run by Children Believe partner, Rural Organization for Poverty Eradication Services (ROPES). Among ROPES’ activities, they bring to light planned incidences of forced early marriage and work with agencies and police to prevent child marriage.
Geetha’s parents learned that their decision to marry her young was against the law. They received counselling and signed a promise written out on paper that they would not break the law.
Geetha’s family also received supplies and a sustainable garden for nutrition to help them overcome economic hardships. And, ROPES started a village development committee to educate local families in law and the harms caused to children through cultural practices such as forced marriage.
Realizing her dream to continue schooling, Geetha, now 19, enjoys giving back to her community by informing children about their rights. She wants to become a teacher and use her skills to help her village advance.
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:
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.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.