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.
Needing to care for her siblings Aalakunta Mamatha was prevented from getting an education, despite attempts from MVF to convince her parents to send her to school. Mamatha’s parents also fixed her marriage against her will. Despite MVF preventing the marriage, Mamatha is under constant pressure from her family to get married.
We are four sisters and I am the eldest. My parents are quarry workers. We have no house and we live in a tent. My father did not send us to schools since we were girls. I was taking care of my siblings. MVF tried to convince my parents for our schooling, but they did not agree. Then the teachers, CRPF and the women’s group collectively urged and convinced them to send all of us to the government school. But we often drop out of school and MVF follows up with us.
When I completed Class V, my father refused to send me to school. MVF staff admitted me along with eight other girls in KGBV on the same day. When I was in Class VII, my marriage was arranged with my maternal cousin. My parents took permission from school saying that relatives were visiting. After I reached home, I was told about my marriage. I informed MVF and local officials who spoke to my father and stopped it. Every month when I come home, there is pressure on me to agree. I now quickly go back to school even before the vacations end.
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’