Altair Guimarães

Sapna: The Girl Who Said No to Child Marriage

The story of a courageous young woman, Sapna, who refused to obey traditional cultural norms and get married at the age of 18. Sapna's story encourages other young women in neighboring villages to gain an education first before marrying.

Living in the rural Badakakhera village in the Rajasthan province of India, 18-year-old Sapna takes a stand against getting engaged to be married because her 70-year-old grandfather, the patriarch of the household wants her to be married before he passes away. Sapna says, "Whatever he (my grandfather) said I obeyed." However, this request she refuses. Sapna and her stepmother, who is 26 years old herself, both realize the implications child marriage has on the woman to be married and her family as well. Teenage girls and children are often undeucated, also have health risks and generally live shorter lives as they are more likely to contract diseases and also more likely to die prematurely in childbirth without adequate healthcare. Sapna's stepmother says that her desire to complete school is a "dream that remains incomplete." Sapna's grandfather has also come to terms with Sapna's refusal and that times are changing in some families' acceptance of child marriage. Sapna wants to further educate her community that they do not need to be married young and against their will. "I'll tell my neighbors child marriage is against the law and they should educate (their daughters)"

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