Press Information Bureau
Government of India
President's Secretariat
07-December-2011 15:20 IST
Girls from Purulia District of West Bengal Who Resisted Child Marriage Meet President of India
Five girls from Purulia District of West Bengal, who resisted child marriage, met the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

The girls – Afsana Khatun and Sunita Mahato had met the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan in May 2009, but had expressed their desire to meet her again, while Mukti Majhi (age 15 years), Sangita Bauri (age 15 years) and Bina Kalindi (age 14 years) were meeting the President for the first time.

Welcoming the girls at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President said their brave resistance against child marriage will not only benefit them, but will also be of immense help to other girls who wish to study and not get married early. The President said the nation requires such acts of courage against social pressure, so that it can progress on the social front also. Economic progress alone would not be enough, if evil social practices continue in the country, the President emphasized. The President said Government has a number of schemes for the girl child, to encourage her to go to school. However, parents have to be sensitized, so that they send their girl child to school. She urged the girls from Purulia District to take-up the work of sensitizing their friends and parents about the ill effects of child marriage. The President said child marriage leads to girls being trapped in the vicious cycle of poor health caused by early motherhood and child mortality, leading to further economic burden on the family. The President also welcomed the participation of UNICEF in the Mission taken-up by the district authorities, and urged district authorities to spread publicity by taking these brave girls throughout the district during their school holidays, to inspire others through the narration of their story, to stand up against evil social practices. She also asked the girls to spread enlightenment and congratulated them on their brave acts.

Mukti Majhi is a tribal girl who lost her mother at a very young age and who used to work as a child labourer. Her father is illiterate and is a labourer earning wages on a daily basis. When Mukti was 13 years old, she was taken away by a boy against her will after a community dance ceremony, but she resisted this age old custom and forced community leaders to accept her will. She is now studying in class 7.

Sangita Bauri was a child labourer who used to work as a domestic help. Her father is a rickshaw puller and her mother is a domestic help. When Sangita was 12 years old, her parents put pressure on her to stop going to school, so that she could be married off. She however resisted pressure and continues to go to school.

Bina Kalindi’s father is a labourer earning wages on a daily basis, who was an alcoholic. However due to relentless persuasion by Bina, he has given up this habit. Bina’s mother is ill. The family was putting huge pressure on her to get married early according to the community’s tradition. However, she also resisted all pressure.

Shri Bhaskar Khulbe, Principal Resident Commissioner, Govt. of West Bengal, Shri Avanindra Singh, District Magistrate & Collector, Purulia, Shri Prasenjit Kundu, Assistant Labour Commissioner, Purulia and Ms. Karin Hulshof, Country Representative, UNICEF, India, were also present on the occasion at Rashtrapati Bhavan.