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Increasing Threats From The Local Youth Has Restricted Malda’s Malala From Attaining Education

  • IWB Post
  •  May 18, 2017

 

A 13-year-old girl whose intervention stopped a child marriage in Bengal’s Malda district has been forced to stop attending school after facing assault threats.

Beauty Khatun was at a wedding ceremony on January 17, when she noticed that the bride was a minor. She raised her voice against the marriage and informed the administration. Her protests caused the village elders to turn their backs against her –– she was even assaulted, and had to be hospitalized. But she filed a police complaint from the hospital that led to the arrest of the bride’s guardians, groom, and some relatives.

Her courage earned her the title ‘Malala of Malda’, and she was felicitated at her home on February 24 by the block development officer on February 24. On International Women’s Day, CM Mamata Banerjee also felicitated her for her courage.

Almost two months after she virtually became the brand ambassador for the district’s anti-child marriage campaign, Khatun has stopped going to school because of increasing threats from local youths. She alleged on Tuesday that despite the support from the school and administration, she is being subjected to teasing and abuse in her locality. She initially managed to put up a brave front, but the harassment has increased of late. Even her neighbors, who were by her side, in the beginning, have stopped coming out in her support.

Those arrested in connection with the child marriage are out on bail and are allegedly threatening Khatun, who is trying to cope by reading books of Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Khatun’s mother Jhasi Begum told TOI, “I never imagined my daughter will have to pay such a price for doing noble work.”

The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) has vowed to ensure her protection, but Khatun still can’t venture outside her house. CWC chairperson Chaitali Ghosh told TOI, “It is a shame for us that Beauty came to me crying, seeking protection. We shall never tolerate this and will visit her house. I’m also asking the police to take strict action against the accused.” ADM Debatosh Mandal too vowed to stand by Beauty with all administrative support.

This article first appeared in The Times Of India.

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