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Read About The Fight Dr. Kriti Bharti Withstood To Help Papli Break Free From Child Marriage

  • IWB Post
  •  February 7, 2019

Child marriages have been practiced in India for centuries and the problem is still alarming, regardless of the optimistic report by UNICEF stating that the number of girls getting married in India had halved. Despite this drop, nearly 1.5 million girls in India get married before they turn 18.

Among the many people working towards the end of this evil practice, Dr. Kriti Bharti, a social activist and rehabilitation psychologist, has made significant efforts by annulling child marriages through her initiative the Saarthi Trust that she founded in 2011.

Dr. Kriti made history by annulling the first ever child marriage in India in the year 2012. The Trust has annulled 39 child marriages in India till now and has also prevented thousands of child marriages.

In our previous conversation with Dr. Kriti, we found out what led her to take up the cause in her hands. “Before starting to work solely for the annulment of child marriage, I had worked with many NGOs that were dedicated to fight against the many prevalent child-exploitation issues, but I felt that the institution of ‘child marriage’ was one where children were being highly exploited in all the possible spheres. And with that view, I laid the foundation of Saarthi Trust in 2011, and ever since I have been managing my single-woman army,” she said.

For her remarkable work, Dr. Kriti made it to the Limca Book of Records and Unique World Records, and has also been honoured with the prestigious award of Youth Activist by CIVICUS (A World Alliance for Citizen Participation). Talking about it, she said, “The recognition that this award holds will lead to more people knowing about the situation and its seriousness. When an issue gets discussed at the global level, not only does the reach expand, but the probability of participation also increases, which is something that is highly needed.”

In a recent case from Balesar, Jodhpur, a nineteen-year-old victim of child marriage, Papli, came to seek help from Dr. Kriti when she read about her in the newspaper. Tired of the injustice that she faced, Papli wanted to file a petition in the family court and annul her marriage but it wasn’t an easy fight for her.

She was married off in November 2015, but when she decided to break free from these illegal ties, her in-laws approached the community panch and pressurized the family so that she changed her decision. Things only became worse as the caste panch threatened the family of penalty and social boycott if the marriage was annulled and the pressure reached to a point where her father announced to hang himself if she didn’t go back to her in-law’s house.

Eventually, Papli found hope in Saarthi, the organization founded by Dr. Kriti and through several counseling sessions conducted by Dr. Kriti, the family and community leaders came in support of her to fight against her marriage. She then went on to file a petition in the family court of Jodhpur under the guidance of Dr. Kriti, who not only counseled the people who were against Papli’s decision initially but she also provided her security and fought on her behalf in the court. As a result, Judge P K Jain passed the orders to annul Papli’s marriage and efforts made by Saarthi paid off.

Papli shared, “This child marriage had ruined me totally but Kriti Didi has given me a new life by the annulment of my child marriage. Now I will study and want to stand on my own feet so not to depend on others.”

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