Thursday, April 30, 2009

Taking a stand for education

A very brave little girl called Rekha in India (and she is just a little girl, which is what makes this story so hard for a westerner to relate to) has refused to get married, as her parents have instructed her. When her parents didn't take her refusal seriously, she sought help and support from government officials.

She wants to get an education.

While we're debating whether this or that model of education is relevant in today's world (and I'm not suggesting that that debate should stop), this girl is choosing an education - whatever education is on offer - over pre-teen marriage.

It must take huge courage to go against your culture and tradition in this fashion. And she has set a precedent. Several other girls have followed her lead. Choosing the empowerment that comes with education. No doubt, to the adults of that culture, this is seen as a breaking down of their traditions, their society. No doubt they are saying things like "This is how it was done for me, and it never did me any harm..." It's not an easy situation, and it isn't black and white.

Rekha has now decided that she wants to become a teacher, demonstrating how highly she values education. In what she probably considers a rather extreme stance, she has declared that she won't get married until she is at least 18.

2 comments:

Rina Tripathi said...

In India there are communities where child marriage is still prevalent. There are some communities like the vagabonds that are resistant to change, but in most communities now this custom doesn't exist. My grandmother gave birth to my mother at sixteen but my mother married at 22 after graduating and doing her B.Ed. So things change pretty fast once education is imparted. In states like Bengal due to influx of refugees the poverty is high and such custom are prevalent as girls are looked up on as burden due to dowry that has to be given at marriage. In middle class rapidly girl child is being valued and nurtured. Female infanticide through abortions still remains a bitter reality though. In India a woman's status is enhanced when she gives birth to a son and often is abused or left by the husband when she fails to produce a male. Sad reality.

Karyn Romeis said...

"often is abused or left by the husband when she fails to produce a male"

Sad reality indeed. Especially since it is from the man's loins that the determining factor for the gender of the child will come. Not the woman's!