Sonam and Rajani Sahariya are 14-year-old girls from Bhuara Jageer Bal Mitra Gram (BMG) in Madhya Pradesh’s Ganj Basoda city. Their parents are stone quarry workers, and also indulge in other seasonal jobs to support their family.
KSCF has recently started the BMG programme In Bhuara Jageer village. As part of the programme implementation, our field staff did a baseline survey of each household to gather socio-economic, educational, and general child protection awareness among the family members. As part of this survey, our team met Ms Mathura Bai (Sonam’s grandmother), who informed the KSCF team that they have decided to marry off Sonam in the coming three to four months. She further added that Rajani’s family is also looking for a groom for her and she will also be married off soon. Hence, the families have stopped the girls’ education.
“Anyway, schools had been closed for almost two years, what difference would it make now? The lockdowns and lack of work also hit our family income badly. We are struggling to arrange for two squares of meals a day. One less mouth to feed will be a relief for her father. So, they are keen to finish their responsibilities as soon as possible,” Mathura Bai added.
Since it was the first meeting with the family, our activists tried to explain the ill effects and legal complications of child marriage to the grandmother. After long discussions, the grandmother agreed to talk to Sonam’s father to get her granddaughter’s wedding cancelled.
The team was not convinced by the grandmother’s actions, so they visited the school to inquire about the status of the girls’ education. The teachers informed that the girls are irregular in school and their admission documentation work is also not complete. The team visited Sonam’s family again to inquire about the incomplete documentation work at school and to check the status of her marriage.
Mathura Bai told our activists that “the family has made the decision to get Sonam married, and it is going to happen as planned. So, there is no point in having this discussion as no one can change our decision.”
KSCF activist Saroj decided to meet the parents of both the girls to have a detailed discussion. He met them several times for a month and explained the work KSCF has done in other villages – how the families are supporting their children’s education and the effect it has on the lives of the children.
After several meetings and discussions about the ill effects of child marriage and the legal repercussions the families may face, they agreed to cancel the wedding.
To support the girls to continue their education, KSCF gave them bicycles. Efforts to link the families with government welfare schemes are in full swing as well.
Sonam and Rajani are now the first two girls from their community to continue their studies beyond class 8.