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Tuktuki Khatun, Bithika Das, Adori Pradhan, three teenage girls from Murshidabad were congratulated by the Honorable President of India on January 17, 2012 for not succumbing to pressure of an early marriage.
President of India, Hon'ble Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil
Murshidabad, West Bengal: The young girls from Murshidabad, with little education and almost no support, turned down marriage proposals and showed tremendous courage in standing up against parental and societal pressure. Their stories of courage and resilience impressed the President to such an extent that she got had them invited to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
"We feel that it is important to listen to the voices of young people on the issue of child marriage and hold their communities responsible to assist them in making a change"- said brave girls who demonstrated resistance in bowing down to an early marriage. This dynamic story of three young girls from Murshidabad is a story that motivated the other young girls in the community to stand up for their rights. Most of the young girls, natives of the same village in West Bengal, took assistance from CHILDLINE, their school teachers and their class mates in making amends to their parents' decision in getting them married at an early age.
Murshidabad girls refuse to marry in order to pursue education
Tuktuki Khatun, a 14 year old girl lives in Kashimnagar gram panchayat with her parents. She was a school dropout who helped her mother to earn a living by rolling beedis and also partook in household chores. Tuktuki had no complaints from life until she was coerced by her family to get married. She refused to get married on the grounds of wanting to complete her education. With support from her friends and the CHILDLINE Murshidabad team, Tuktuki managed to convince her parents about the ill effects of child marriage. With great efforts of the CHILDLINE team, Tuktuki now goes to school and lives her dream.
The story of Bithika and Adori are no ordinary stories. Like Tutuki, their marriages too were plotted against their will. 16 year old Bithika Das, lives in Behrampore. Bithika was a bright student studying in class X. Her father sought to arrange her marriage with a forty year old local businessman. She refuted strongly, but her parents continued to pressurize her. Bithika informed her friends about the same who in turn informed CHILDLINE. "With the help of CHILDLINE and other NGOs, the marriage was stopped. I want to go to back school and finish my education. Marriage can wait until I am 19," says Bithika.
Adori Pradhan, a 17 year old girl, belongs to a poor family of the Mahurul gram panchayat.. Adori was a student of class XII when her father arranged her marriage. "I wanted to study and did not want to get married, as our teacher had told us that one should not marry before 18 years," says Adori. She opposed, her parents, but they refused to listen to her. Having failed to convince her parents, she informed a CHILDLINE team member about her plight. The CHILDLINE team then met the parents and counseled them about the ill-effects of child marriage. Adori is currently pursuing her studies at Nabagram College.
The 3 young girls have shown immense courage in battling societal pressure of child marriage. They would have been victims of child marriage at a young age, had they not shown exemplary courage in resisting the same.
Tuktuki, Bithika and Adori have become role models for those girls who are subject to the same pressure in their community.
Brave girls meets Honorable President of India
Impressed by their stories of courage, the Honorable President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil felicitated the girls for standing up against child marriage and awarded the President of India's prize on January 17, 2012.
The Honorable President interacted with the children and applauded them for their acts of valor. Welcoming the girls at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Honorable President of India, Smt. Pratibha Patil asked the girls to share their stories and congratulated them for the same. The President said "I am very happy that the girls have shown courage in resisting child marriage. Their courage has had a positive effect on their communities, leading more girls to stand up against child marriage."
"It is not only necessary to send girls to school but also to give them social education to make them aware of the social evils which they must resist, "she added. She asked them to propagate the idea of eradicating social evils and sensitizing their friends and parents about the ill effects of child marriage. The children also received a certificate from the Principal Resident Commissioner and the District Magistrate of Murshidabad.