Editor’s note: World Vision India, an NGO that works to improve the lives of children in the country, collected letters addressed to the Prime Minister from teenage girls across 25 states in India asking them to talk about the issues that matter to them the most. The following letter is a compilation of all those letters, each line coming from an individual letter.
Respected Prime Minister,
I am 15 years old and am studying in Class VII. I am able to read and write. I am even able to write this letter. The government school is a big blessing to us.
I walk from 6 AM to 7 AM to reach the nearest bus stop, in order to get to school. My school is not a good school as many of the teachers are never present. The school is never clean because there is no staff, so we clean the school by ourselves. But this means we get less time to study. My sister got married when she was 15, but I would really like to continue my studies.
As girls, we face some problems – I am going to write about them. There is no place for girls to play in the village; we don’t have a playground. My family along with 350 others were forced to vacate from the temporary shelters we have been living in for the last 50 years. We don’t have a proper shelter now, and we girls have to bathe and go to toilet in the open, every day.
The closest hospital to my village is so far away. Since we live in a forested area, people avoid going to the hospital and practice various superstitions instead. Witchcraft is popular in my village. Because of this, many pregnant women and infants have died.
There are other problems too. A lot of child marriages happen in my state, so girls drop out quite early. Because clean water is scarce, we depend on the lorry water provided by the government. There are chemicals like fluoride in the water we drink, so it affects our health. We spend hours fetching water, and don’t get time to study at home. In my village the men gamble and drink, and beat their wives if they don’t give them money.
I hope that girls will be able to study, lead lives free from the fear of violence and be able to choose whom to marry and when.
All the letters can be read in full here.