It requires exemplary guts and courage to eradicate a social evil, as the story of Vijaylaxmi Sharma shows
Rajasthan’s child sex ratio stands at abysmally low at 888 girls per 1000 boys, sixth lowest among all states and UTs. Child marriage is the raison d’être for this numbing statistic. In the hinterlands of the desert state, notorious for its medieval attitude towards women, Vijaylaxmi Sharma, a 24 years old girl, is fighting the depraved custom of child marriage, single handedly. Sharma is from Jhorinda Bhojpura village of Phagi district, Rajasthan. “Here the marriage of girl child is decided even before she is born. It’s wrong to snatch away the childhood of girls in the name of tradition,” says Sharma.
She was just 13 years old, when her fight started. Her family had fixed her marriage, but she revolted against the decision as she wanted to continue her education. Few days later, an incident in her neighborhood changed her life, forever. Her friend, Mamta Bagaria was just 8, when she was married off. Five years later, she got pregnant. Mamta’s indisposed body couldn’t bear the trauma of childbirth and she passed away at an innocuous age of 13. Sharma’s life went topsy-turvy after the incident and she took a pledge to fight against the menace of child marriage.
Till date, Sharma has prevented more than 25 child marriages in her village and vicinity. Her modus operandi is quite simple, although it requires exemplary courage. As soon as she receives a lead about the prospect of a girl child marriage, she reaches out to the family. She cites the health benefits and long term detrimental impact of child marriage to convince the family. She takes the child bride-to-be in confidence. This is no easy task and takes her multiple visits to even make headway. There are times when valid reasoning and argument don’t work with the family members. That is when she has to resort to police complain and societal pressure. Sharma has received ample support from the police machinery in the past.
The path of good actions is always strewn with difficulties. Sharma has to bear the jibes, abuses, boycott and sometimes even death threats. Sometimes, the disgruntled people also throw stones at her house and scribble on village walls to malign her. Her father has to personally wipe off such slanders. But, all this hardly deters her. In fact, she confides that this resistance and protest motivates her to work even harder. “I wouldn’t be strong enough without this opposition. It fuels my courage,” she admits. Uprooting the social evil of child marriage won’t take much time if our society has more heroes like Sharma.
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