Bride uses Facebook to prove underage marriage

child marriage

A 19 year-old from New Delhi secured a divorce after using her husband’s Facebook account to prove she had been married to him while still underage.

The teenager, from the north-western state of Rajasthan, had appealed to a court to annul her marriage because she was below the minimum age of 18 when it took place. Child marriage is illegal in India but still widely practiced, especially in rural regions. Oddly, under the Hindu Marriage Act, the minimum age for men is higher, at 21.

But her husband denied they’d even been betrothed and her case stalled, Channel NewsAsia reports.

So, working with a child rights activist, she combed through her husband’s Facebook account and soon found incriminating evidence.

The activist, from the Sarathi Trust, explained:

“Many of his friends had posted congratulatory messages on his Facebook page. The court accepted this evidence and declared the marriage invalid.”

There was, however, a twist in the tale: the husband had also been underage at the time of the marriage in 2010. In fact, both bride and groom had been just 12 at the time.

Most Rajasthani girls forced into illegal arranged marriages while still children actually remain with their parents until the age of 18 and are then sent off to their supposed grooms. The teenager in this case found herself in this situation but when her parents began to pressure her into moving in with her ‘husband’, she rebelled and ran away. She had already taken a dislike to him, thinking he drank too much.

The teenage bride told Agence France-Presse:

“I wanted to study but my family and my in-laws wanted me to live with a drunkard. It was about life and death, and I chose to live.”

In a shelter she met the Sarathi Trust activist, who helped her apply for an annulment.

Meanwhile, Egypt, another country still plagued by child marriage, is currently finalising legislation to criminalise the practice.

Photo of the Jain temple at Ranakpur, Rajasthan, by Christopher Walker via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

View more from this author

Leave a comment