Edha is 17 years old and she’s the daughter of two farmers.
Her family lives in the South of India, precisely in the Anandal village, Kalapur area, Raichur district, Karnataka.
When she was 10, Edha’s parents obliged her to quit school in order to prepare her to get married with a cousin.
The staff of local organization RLHP, Cesvi’s partner, met her parents in the past months. They said that she didn’t want to study: “This is the reason why we chose to interrupt her studies”, they explained.
Edha’s version was actually very different: “I liked going to school, I was the best of my class” – she said with tears in her eyes – “my dream has always been to attend university and graduate”.
After several meetings to clarify the situation, Cesvi and RLHP’s social operators managed to push Edha’s parents to admit the truth. Afterwards, they managed to convince them that education is important and that having their daughter married before she turned 18 could get them in severe troubles, as marriage before legal age is a criminal offence according to Indian law.
Once Edha’s parents had been persuaded, RLHP’s staff helped the girl enrolling to pre-university classes. Today Edha feels like a very lucky girl and is going on in her studies with success.
Unfortunately not all the stories like Edha’s one end up happily. In India, early marriages represent a wide-spread, socially accepted reality.
This problem doesn’t concern India solely. All over the world, over 700 million women are forced to get married in their childhood, before turning 18. 250 million of them are obliged to marry even before they’re 15 years old.
It’s a violence that sums up with all other kinds of violence women undergo in every corner of our planet, as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women reminds us. It’s an important day that falls every 25th of November and that has been established by the United Nations in 1999, giving official recognition to a date that was chosen 18 years earlier by a group of female activists in Bogotà, in the context of the Latin America and Caribbean Feminist Summit.
We at Cesvi want to remember this date with some alarming data:
- Around 35% of women around the globe underwent physical and/or sexual violence once in their life from their partner or another person outside their family. Several studies claim that, in some countries, the percentage of women that were subject to violence from their partner raises up to 70%;
- Abused women have twice the possibility of facing abortions, depression and contracting HIV;
- At least 200 million women and girls in 30 different countries were forced to get genital mutilation against their will.
For all these women, girls and daughters we fight every day with our projects on the field, so that the 25th of November won’t be just a date on the calendar. We’re active against gender violence, especially in India, South Africa and Tajikistan.
With our effort we want to spread information and knowledge to eradicate a culture made of prejudices, violence and prevarication.
Cover photo: Monika Bulaj