Nisha Kumari: taking the lead in abolition of child marriages
As a peer educator under the MTB programme, Nisha Kumari (17) was chosen to be one of two child representatives in the Village Level Child Protection Committee (VLCPC) in her area. The VLCPCs are established by the government of India.
Nisha recalls that she did not attend the first meetings of the committee: ‘I was not sure about the purpose of the VLCPC and why I needed to be there. I was also afraid of having to talk in public.’ Later, her experience as a peer educator and the training sessions by CINI she attended gave her the confidence to start attending the meetings.
Interventions on child marriages
In March 2019, two of her peers (both 15) said that their families had arranged their marriages without their consent. Nisha knew she had to do something. It took several interventions to convince the parents to cancel the weddings. Nisha faced some backlash for her involvement. ‘People would say child marriages used to happen before, so what is the problem now?’ she says.
Impact of child marriage
‘We all felt a little scared as well. Some of us got scolded at home too,’ she adds. However, Nisha remains convinced that she did the right thing: ‘It is not legal. When a girl marries early, her life changes completely. She can’t study. Her health may suffer. If she becomes a mother, it is bad for her and her child,’ she says. ‘Before, we girls used to just sit on our problems, keep them to ourselves. Now, the VLCPC and the adolescent girls group are there. We have found these spaces where we can raise our issues and find solutions. It feels really good,’ she adds with a smile.