Socio-cultural norms and values in India make it really hard for women and young girls to defend their rights. Many girls are married off to other families at a young age. Many of them fall victim to sexual abuse and fail to receive the care they are entitled to. Roopa’s (17) parents wanted to marry her off to an uncle but this could just be prevented.

Child abuse / Child marriages

Marriage as a solution to poverty 

Roopa (17) is the eldest daughter of a poor family in India. She has a 14-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister. In May 2016 she left school. At the time, she was 16 years old and in ninth grade. As of that moment, Roopa became responsible for the household. Both her parents work full days in a quarry and earn very little money. To make matters worse, her father is an alcoholic so he spends all his money on alcohol and her mother therefore is the breadwinner. As a result, her parents felt forced to marry Roopa off to an uncle, the brother of Roopa’s mother, who is much older than Roopa.

I love going to school and it’s my dream to go on to higher education 

and become a teacher

Roopa (17) from India

Education instead of marriage

While preparations for the wedding were well underway, a member of a local self-help group expressed her concerns about the intended marriage in a conversation with one of Terre des Hommes’ partner organizations. Together they took action and were able to convince Roopa’s parents to call off the wedding. They also convinced her parents to enroll Roopa in school again for her to prepare for the next school year. Currently Roopa is enrolled in a non-formal school where she prepares herself for grade ten. Although she can also choose to become a tailor, she has chosen to continue her education.

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