Kriti Bharti Has Annulled 31 Child Marriages And Stopped More Than 900! #HatsOff

29 April 2017

Kriti Bharti

Image Source: © Cover Asia Press / Shariq Allaqaband

Being a child, Kriti faced many challenges. She was being poisoned when she was too little to even fight back. Now, she is child marriage activist and rehabilitation psychologist in India who has stood up against death threats to save victims of child marriages.

She annulled 31 child marriages and stopped more than 900 marriages involving both girls and boys. Kriti is not just leading life on her own terms but is a fearless crusader against child marriages in Rajasthan. She has rehabilitated more than 6,000 children and 5,500 women.

We all know that child marriage are illegal in India since the British time, but sadly, it is still in practice in some of the places of our country. Being born and brought up in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, a state where child marriages are still rampant, she started the Saarthi Trust in 2011 with the sole aim of bringing greater social justice to women.

India has the highest number of child brides in the world with UNICEF estimating that 47% of girls in India are married before the age of 18. The northern region of Rajasthan is at the epicenter of this national crisis where 65% of girls, married off before their eighteenth birthday. Kriti describes child marriages as a ‘dark room’ where children cannot see into their future. Her organization is working to help children see the light.

Her organization helps the girl build a better life for herself.

Kriti’s rehabilitation program is designed to ensure that the girls are equipped to lead and live a successful and independent life and to speak out against child marriage so that the cycle is broken for good. The organization rehabilitated many girls who have finished their education and pursue careers in medicine and engineering. Some have even continued working with Kriti to help rehabilitate other former child brides.

Carrying on such an organization is not an easy task. Annulment of a child’s marriage involves convincing the child’s parents against the marriage. In many cases, the parents agree. But getting the village elders to agree to this is often most difficult; as they believe that the community’s pride is at stake.

Kriti and her team have to face the consequences of the same. They have been attacked many times and in many cases, they sought legal help. Kriti has received over a hundred death threats but never did she back off instead feels that such things don’t matter as long as the girl child gets rescued.

The organization’s work is awe-inspiring. It organizes camps in villages where discussions are organized on child marriages and its ill-effects. The older women who were married off at a young age are a dominant part of these discussions where they share their negative experiences and ask young girls to break free from social dogma. The trust also runs a helpline to report child marriages anywhere in the State.

Kriti had a saddening past. Her father was a doctor but abandoned his mother before she was born. The relatives were against her mother carrying Kriti to term and asked her to marry a second time. Even after she was born, her situation didn’t improve. She was poisoned and had to discontinue her education, which she pursued much later. Now, she is doing her Ph.D. in Child Protection and Safety. Having had a disturbing childhood, today she is strong and high headed.

Kriti has been awarded numerously for her acts of courage. She recently received a Fellowship from the British Government and Thomson Reuters Corporation. She and her team together can accomplish any achievement. Kriti’s name has also been included in the Limca Book of Records. She has been added to the World Records of India catalog and awarded with the titles ‘Fastest Legally Annulled Child marriages’ and ‘First Ever Child Annulment’ in India. Her inspiring story is also a part of the CBSE curriculum, although Kriti believes that much more needs to be done, and her journey has just begun.

Kriti is Woman Of Courage because she is determined to bring a change and has dedicated her life to helping the defenseless children from their families who force them into the most barbaric circumstances because of ‘tradition’.

 

 

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