In India, nearly half of all girls are married off to older men before they turn 18—often while they’re as young as 11 or 12. Technically, they aren’t forced to do it—but it’s so ingrained in the culture that the girls are often afraid to say no, for fear of seeming disrespectful or bringing shame upon their families. So the archaic tradition carries on, year after year, pulling young women away from their homes and schools and into motherhood before they’ve even finished puberty.
But Rekha Kalinda, a brave young girl from Bararola, may be changing the entire culture of Indian arranged marriage. When, at the age of eleven, her parents informed her that she would soon be married off, she gave them an answer they weren’t expecting: No.
As the article says, Rekha’s courageous decision to stand up to centuries of tradition has had a ripple effect. Other girls that live near her have also refused – to the point that there haven’t been any child marriages in the surrounding areas. Her story has reached across the world to people ranging from world leaders to 10 year old girls.
Her story is a hero’s story. Compare it with Rosa Parks. Compare it with Mahatma Gandhi. Compare it with the boys who stood up to bullying at their school. One person’s actions can make a difference. For those who have been telling me over the last couple of weeks that nothing can be done about bullying, think again.