If tinsel town buzz is to be believed, Tejasvini – an episodic serial based on Rajasthan’s child brides is likely to go on air soon, possibly by end October or November.
It is a common practice in Rajasthan to get children married on auspicious days such as Akshay Tritiya or Akha Teej and Peepal Purnima, and even during Mrityubhoj/Mausar (death feast organised when a family member dies) as a cost saving measure. The practice of atta-satta (exchange of brides) is also common in the state.
The serial stars 18-year-old Vidhi from Mumbai (real name not yet revealed) as the main protagonist and is based on a true story. More details are on the way as channel sources refused to comment on the project. Shooting is likely to start next week.
It seems the serial is inspired by the story of a 16-year-old Rajasthani girl, who had been sent off to live with her husband in another village, and was rescued thanks to her classmates who were determined to bring her back to school.
She was married off when she was 11, according to a Hindustan Times report, to a man 12 years older to her, as part of a “bride exchange” when her brother was married to a woman from her husband’s family. She was packed off and sent to her husband’s village. However, when her classmates noticed that she did not come to school the next day, they reportedly went searching for her barefoot.
According to the HT report, they complained to the local police and the district collector who tracked the girl down and entrusted her to the care of a child welfare centre. Her classmates, with the help of their teachers, helped her return to her parents, and ultimately to school.
The girl told HT that she wants the marriage annulled and wants to study further.
Recently, a Rajasthani woman who was married at age 8 cracked the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) to study medicine, thanks to the support of her husband and family. The state has an enduring problem of child marriage, which is illegal, but continues due to poor enforcement of the law. Recently, a group of women came together in a Rajasthani village to overcome centuries of ‘tradition’ of child marriages. The serial is a combination of both stories.
Even though there has been a decline in child marriage across the country, research by Young Lives in coordination with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has revealed that Rajasthan has reported the highest incidence of child marriages.
Rajasthan also topped in the percentage (4.69%) of boys marrying below the legal age of 21 years. Thirteen other States reported a higher percentage of child marriages among boys when compared with the national average.
The study, zeroes in on 70 districts spread across 13 States, which comprise more than 20% of child marriages.
Infamous for child marriages, Rajasthan also become the first state to launch a strategic action plan for prevention of
child marriages.The plan is aimed at changing patriarchal mindsets, improving legal and policy environment, increasing access to safe and quality education, greater access to quality health services, building avenues for economic development and livelihoods, empowering adolescent girls and boys with life skills and strengthening the data management system to track child marriages.