Assaulted For Stopping Child Marriage, 13-Year-Old Stops Going To School

A 13-year-old student from West Bengal’s Malda district, who was feted by chief minister Mamata Banerjee earlier this year for stopping child marriage, has stopped going to school after village elders assaulted her.

Beauty Khatun, a resident of Amrity village in Malda district, had noticed that the bride at a wedding she was attending, on January 17, 2017, was a minor, according to a report by the Times of India (ToI). When she informed the administration about the wedding, the village elders assaulted her. Khatun had to be hospitalised after the assault, but she managed to register a complaint with the police, which led to the arrest of of the bride’s guardians, the groom, and some relatives.

The block development officer felicitated Khatun at her home on February 24 for her courage. She earned the title ‘Malala of Malda’, and on International Women’s Day, chief minister Mamata Banerjee also felicitated the child.

On Tuesday, Khatun alleged that despite the support provided by her school and the local administration, local youths are abusing and harassing her – and that the harassment has increased of late. Her neighbours too have stopped supporting her, she said.

The accused, who were arrested after Khatun’s complaint, are now out on bail and are also allegedly threatening her. She told the paper that she is coping with the harassment and threats by reading books written by Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai.

“I never imagined my daughter will have to pay such a price for doing noble work,” Jhasi Begum, the child’s mother, told the paper.

The Child Welfare Committee, responsible for the care and protection of children in a district, has promised to take action, according to the ToI report.

“It is a shame for us that Beauty came to me crying, seeking protection, when we hold her as a model against child marriage. We shall never tolerate this and will visit her house. I’m also asking the police to take strict action against the accused,” CWC chairperson Chaitali Ghosh told the paper.