In Rajasthan, India, child marriages are far too common. Recently the state took action to prevent further child marriages, however, the plan didn’t take into account children who were already married.
Many girls, as young as 12 years old are married without much knowledge of the commitment their parents made for them.
In 2010, when Sushila Bishnoi was only 12 years old, she was paired up with another 12-year-old.
In a secret ceremony, 12-year-old Sushila, now 19, was married.
However, the two children didn’t live with each other after their wedding. According to local tradition, girls who marry before they turn 18 typically live with their parents until their eighteenth birthday.
As Sushila neared her eighteenth birthday, she knew her parents were going to force her out of the family house and make her live with her husband, a “drunkard.”
Sushila ran away from home to a shelter so she wouldn’t have to live with her husband. It was at this shelter where she met Kriti Bharti, an activist with a charity that helps child brides annul their marriages.
She worked closely with an activist to annul her illegal marriage.
Sushila said she was more interested in pursuing education than living with a man she had been forced to marry at the age of 12.
“I wanted to study but my family and my in-laws wanted me to live with a drunkard,” she said to AFP. “It was about life and death, and I chose to live.”
With the help of Bharti, the 19-year-old was able to convince the court that her marriage was illegal. However, the evidence she used was a bit unusual.
She searched her now ex-husband’s Facebook page for evidence to use against their marriage.
Sushila looked on the man’s Facebook page and found that his friends had written messages and comments about their marriage.
“Many of his friends had posted congratulatory messages on his Facebook page,” Bharti told AFP.
This was all the evidence the court needed, and they declared Sushila’s marriage invalid. She was then free to follow her dreams of continuing her education.