The saga that is Naina’s life continues to unfold, involving everyone who comes into her orbit. Although her life has been difficult, her family is horrendous and one cannot help feel sorry for her, but the limits of patience are stretched continuously to breaking point. For a start she led us to believe she is 14 years old… when in reality she is about sixteen.
Her family recently forced her into an arranged marriage. The reason was that she had started an affair with an auto driver over twice her age. The bride price and cost of wedding was staggering for families of limited means. She had agreed, albeit reluctantly, to the wedding and then ran.
The ‘in-laws’ want either her or their money back. Naina will not go. Her family is supposedly condemning her for their lost ‘izzat’ (pride), when actually the money they got for Naina has alreadybeen spent on alcohol.
She ran back to us for help. We took her via Childline to the CWC (Child Welfare Council) court. In court she recanted and stated firmly that she wanted to go back to her family. Naina is a willful child/womanwho does not see beyond her nose or consider the consequences of her actions.
We tried to return her to her family as commanded by the court and she ran again. We had to file her as a missing person with the police and visit her family with the police to ensure no harm came to her.
After being spotted begging at Astley Hall, Childline informed the police and she was returned yet again to her family. How long she will stay is the question and no doubt she will return to us for help…
She is 16; an age at which many Indian women are betrothed, be it for strategic alliances for industrial families, or Rs.5000 for a child woman from the streets who has no other value for her family.