It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.
Despite Muthyam Mamata’s protests, she was married against her will at the age of 17. Mamata conceived within a year of her marriage and working through her pregnancy, became malnourished and underweight.
I was very sociable and had many friends in school. I would also share all that happened in college with my mother and told her about the strict maths teacher who was abusive and my disgust with teachers who teased girl students. My father did not take any responsibility for the family since he was always under the influence of alcohol. My grandfather was a big support but wanted me to get married while he was living. I stopped talking to everybody in the house and stopped eating to show how angry I was at the fixing of my marriage. I could not fight anymore and got married at the age of 17 while my husband was 26. I did not like the big age gap between me and my husband. I was also upset that I did not get the opportunity to talk to him before I got married. I was told that the boy’s family had agreed to let me study and finish graduation. My husband had completed his graduation and works in a chit fund.
My mother-in-law gives me less importance as her niece is already a graduate and I have only completed Class XI. I told my husband I could not stand this comparison any longer. If I were not married, I would have also been studying in a college by now. But I conceived within a year of my marriage and completely lost hope of education. I worked through my pregnancy until the ninth month and was terribly underweight with no food or energy. I went to my mother’s house for my delivery. It was a caesarean. I weigh only 35 kg.
I came back to my husband with my daughter who is five months old. He is quite supportive, takes me shopping and buys clothes of my choice. He encourages me to pursue further studies. My younger sister’s marriage was stopped by the police. I have given her full support and joined the campaign against child marriage.
Narrative provided by M Venkatarangaiya Foundation in their report ‘…and they never lived happily ever after. The battle for justice goes on: Voices of married girls in Telangana’