In what is thought to be the first case of its kind, an Indian teenager has had her child “marriage” legally annulled. Laxmi Sargara, who is 18, found out that she was married to Rakesh when his family came to take her with them to start her new life as Rakesh’s wife. It was only then that Laxmi learned she had been wed to Rakesh when she was one and he was three. Laxmi turned to the Sarathi Trust in Jodhpur city, a local non-governmental organization, after her parents disagreed with her in wanting to end the marriage. Rakesh also agreed with ending the marriage after counseling from Sarathi Trust.
Although childhood marriages are illegal in India under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, they are still common in the country, particularly in rural and poor communities. According to a recent survey, 10% of girls in Laxmi’s state are married off before age 18.
Laxmi and Rakesh declared their marriage null and void through signing an affidavit in the presence of a notary public in Jodhpur. Kriti Bharti of the Sarathi Trust hoped that “others will take inspiration” from Laxmi and Rakesh in wanting to annul their childhood marriages.
See Indian teenager annuls her child ‘marriage’, BBC News, (April 25, 2012), http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17838022.