An 11-year-old girl overheard her parents discussing about giving her in marriage along with her 13-year-old sister Babli.
“No, I do not want to get married now. I want to study,” protested sixth grader Payal Jangid. “If you forcefully marry me, I will run away from the village.”
Payal’s frightened parents were obliged to give up the marriage proposal.
Child marriage was prevalent in Payal’s Hinsla village, about 100 km away from Jaipur in Rajasthan. Deeming that girls belong to other families, many poor, illiterate parents did not want to spend money on their daughters’ education, but wanted to get rid of their minor daughters through marriage.
Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi and his wife Sumedha visited Hinsla in 2012 and spoke to the community about a child’s right to education, healthcare and protection from exploitation. Inspired by their Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Payal too joined them.
Gradually Payal was elected as the sarpanch (leader) of her village’s Bal Panchayat (Children’s Parliament). She campaigned against child marriage and canvassed boys and girls to protest against it.