Clipping wings and pushing to fly?

Just when 30+ women are cribbing about societal pressures mounting on them to settle down, and you don’t hesitate one bit to press the thumb that signifies your tacit approval on facebook, here is what you should consider. Somewhere, a 15 year-old is taking vows that she has no idea about; an 18-year-old is screaming inside the labour room and a 20-year-old is toiling in the kitchen for her two-digit family of in-laws.

What am I even talking about?

Child marriage, a vice that continues to plague India ages after we have gone hi-fi.

Now, if you’re wondering whether I’m going to talk about something that used to happen in the 1950s, I’d like to correct you. As per data, 8.32 crore girls are married off before they are 18. Even now.

This has many adverse impacts, as you might guessed. One, getting married at a young age would also mean getting pregnant sooner than expected, especially because of ‘real’ societal pressures to hand the family their next generation.

Now, at that age, the body isn’t exactly prepared for childbirth, you see. But then, things happen and in an attempt to keep up the traditions, the girls give in and then give up. Reportedly, 9.5 lakh teenage mothers have succumbed to childbirth in the past decade.

That itself speaks a tragic story. Not just do young children die, they also leave behind infants who are left at the mercy of other family members. Why? Just for the sake up keeping up with some archaic traditions?

And then let’s look at the mental stress. As soon as teens are married off, the doors of schools are shut for them by their relatives. So education aspirations down the drain, they adopt the kitchen as their elixir. The ones that survive through childbirth have no motive left in life but to serve their families.

Imagine chaining a teen down to ‘service’ of elders on the pretext of giving her a good future.

What kind of future are we trying to build here? One that threatens her physical and mental well being? One that clips her wings? Will our ‘traditions’ ever grow up?

We need to answer. Now.

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