Sakshi and her family have been constantly harassed by 35-year-old Shiv Shankar, whose marriage was fixed with her a year back.

Rescued from child marriage a year ago Hyderabad girl allegedly being harassed by groom againImage for representation
news Child Marriage Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 15:19

“I came back home from school that day, and my mother told me tomorrow is my engagement,” recalls 16-year-old resident of Hyderabad, Sakshi* who was rescued from child marriage over a year back.

“I will never marry him. I don’t want to get married now. I want to study,” she adds.

Even after the rescue, Sakshi and her family have been constantly harassed by 35-year-old Shiv Shankar, whose marriage was fixed with her a year back.  

On Sunday night, Shankar, not only allegedly verbally abused Sakshi at her home after consuming alcohol, he also slapped her mother who asked him to get out of the house.

“He did not contact us for several months after the NGO rescued me, but from January onwards, he started visiting us and calling us every day, asking my parents to agree for our marriage,” says Sakshi.

Speaking to The News Minute, Sakshi’s mother Gauri* says, “On Sunday, he first came to our house in the morning, but then he went out. When he came back at around 7.30pm in the evening again, he was drunk. He started talking bad about us and abusing Sakshi. We have blacklisted his number, so he was angry. When I asked him to leave, he said, ’who are you to stop me’ and then slapped me,” says Gauri.

Sakshi immediately called Achyuta Rao, from Balala Hakkula Sangham, a Hyderabad-based NGO working for child rights, who rescued her from the marriage last year.  

However, by the time police reached the spot, Shankar had already left.

“I was so scared. My mom’s nose started bleeding. My two sisters and brother were scared and crying. I just hugged them tight so that they feel safe,” recalls Sakshi.

“On Monday, the family came and filed a case against Shiv Shankar. He has been harassing the family for the past several months. However, currently he is absconding. He stays in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, we suspect he might be hiding there,” says Inspector Murali Krishna from Vanasthalipuram Police Station.

Following the complaint, a case has been registered under Sections 448 (Punishment for house-trespass) and 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of IPC against the accused.

‘He is my cousin and wanted to marry me for the past four years’ says Sakshi

Coming from a poor family background, Sakshi stays with her mother, father, two sisters and a brother. Sakshi has always seen her mother toiling hard to earn some more money, as her father wastes half the money he earns on his alcohol.

For the past four years, Shankar has been trying to convince her family to accept his proposal to marry her.

“Shankar is my father’s sister’s son. That means he is my first cousin. He has his business, and earns well. He has been lending money to my father, however, when he was unable to pay back the money, Shankar made a proposal for me and asked my father to accept it,” says Sakshi.

Sakshi alleges that to convince her family, Shankar even said that he will allow her to continue her studies, while taking care of the education expenses.

“He also said, I can stay with my family till I complete my schooling,” she adds.

Last year, the mother Gauri, who has always been against the marriage had no choice but to agree to her husband’s decision of accepting the marriage proposal, thinking about their financial condition.

While her family was busy decorating the house for the engagement, Sakshi was keen on studying for her SSC exams ahead.

“It did affect my studies, I was under pressure. On the one hand, I was thinking about my career and dreams, but I was also feeling guilty about being selfish. I have two sisters, and my parents have been worried about their education and marriage as well. If I get married, my husband will take care of my education and mom, dad can spare money for my sisters’ education, this is what I was thinking,” says Sakshi.

On the day of the engagement, Sakshi’s best friend saw her with Shankar and later she enquired about the event. “My best friend Aruna asked me. When I told her the whole incident, she said, in our school another classmate of mine, Jahanvi* was supposed to get married but she was rescued. We immediately went to her and asked,” says Sakshi.

“We shared the same pain, she asked me consult our school faculty. My class teacher listened to the whole story patiently and asked me not to discuss it with my family. She then called the NGO,” she adds.  

In April last year, Balala Hakkula Sangham rescued her from the marriage, following a complaint by her teacher.

‘I want to study and then work’

“I want to help my family financially. I want to prove that I am not a burden,” Sakshi says.

After she was rescued, the NGO enrolled her at a junior college in Vanasthalipuram, where she secured second position by scoring 92% in in the Intermediate Examination this year.

“She wanted to study further, so we requested the director of the junior college to give her admission. She is a bright student and was determined to do well. Her life would have been spoilt had she not been rescued,” says Achyuta Rao.

Sakshi aspires to work in a bank and earn enough to help her parents.

“I won’t get married till all my siblings become independent and start earning. I want to take that responsibility of their education. For that, I have to study hard. From next year, I will start my tuitions to prepare for Bank exams,” she says confidently.

NGO wants strict action against the accused

Balala Hakkula Sangham has demanded that police should take strict action against the accused and also charge him under Section 354 of IPC (criminal force on woman with intent to outrage her modesty) for attacking Sakshi’s mother.

The family has reached out to the NGO for further help in the case, in view of the threats from Shankar.

“Shankar has been forcing the family to accept the marriage proposal. He has been constantly calling them, when they blacklisted his number, he even abused them. There should be a case against him under Child Marriage Prohibition Act also for forcing the parents. She is only 16 years old and has the right to select her life partner once she grows up,” says Achyuta Rao.

(*Name changed to protect identity)