Attack on Shakuntala (08:49)
While India has made progress in terms of technology and women's rights, the Hindu tradition of child marriage is still a problem. In 2005, a woman working against this practice was brutally attacked. Dr. Anil Garg describes the attack; both patient and doctor worked hard to heal her injuries.
Villagers Implicated in Crime (09:26)
In Bhangarh, the village Shakuntala visited before she was attacked, people deny any connection to the crime. Though child marriage became illegal in India in 1972, it is still common for economic reasons in rural areas like this village. Gopal Nagaur was a suspect in the case because he threatened Shakuntala for opposing child marriage, but he refutes the accusation.
Investigation of Attack (08:51)
Shakuntala worked for the Women and Child Welfare Department, and had been doing field work in Bhangarh; her boss claims she was dedicated and well-liked. Women’s activist Kalpana Mehta, explains that Shakuntala immediately recognized that the attack was tied to her child-marriage work, and she had submitted a complaint when Nagaur threatened her.
Shakuntala's Story (05:17)
Shakuntala explains that in an effort to reduce child marriages, her department sent her with a list of names to the village of Bhangarh. The villagers openly threatened her and sent a complaint letter to the department. In a week, she was attacked; in the hospital, police ordered her not to give information to the media.
Child Marriage in India (06:37)
Since girls are a burden on families, they are married as early as possible; at the Gangaur festival, virgin girls pray for a suitable husband with a mock marriage. This practice began as a way to protect Hindu girls, but parents do not realize the harm it does. Shakuntala explains that when married from the age of 8 to 14, girls stop going to school and their health declines. The Women and Child Welfare Department has involved the police to stop three child marriages.
Villager Accounts of Child Marriage (10:39)
Villagers describe their old tradition of child marriage; families marry multiple children off at once to save on wedding expenses. Rukma, a 21 year old woman who was not married due to her polio, explains that parents are uneducated and they see marrying their daughters as the only way to care for them. Since Shakuntala's attack, child marriage has declined in the village due to bad publicity; she continues to work for social justice despite impaired use of her hands.
Credits: With These Two Hands (01:03)
Credits: With These Two Hands
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