"She was around 14-15, when I took the decision and got her married at the same time as my older daughter. I deeply regret that decision," Kumar,* father of Geeta* (both pictured above) states quietly, remembering the dilemma that poverty and tradition placed him in. "They told me, ‘Get both daughters married at the same time to save dowry and marriage expenses.’"
Geeta explains the pressure her parents felt from the community, saying "They fed my mother’s ear with corrupted truths like ‘Get her married off before it’s too late.’ I pleaded and tried to explain to my parents that I didn’t want to get married, it was wrong – but the societal pressure was too great.
"When the dowry was being exchanged for my sister, I saw another being exchanged at the same time. That’s when I knew that it was for me. I was to get married. That day I cried. I was raging with anger. It was an awful feeling that I had to leave my education and end up there. You know I really wanted to study," she says.
"I was sent to my in-law’s place. What I saw was very disturbing. My sister used to get beaten up often. Every time they came to beat me, my sister shielded me. I also realised the man I was married to drank. I used to feel rotten, I felt like ending my life."
Fearing for Geeta’s safety, her sister bravely called their parents and told them what was happening.
That’s when Mangay and the Men Care Group got involved. "They explained to my parents that what they did was wrong and is a serious offence, the penalty being jail. I am glad that my parents’ eyes are opened now. They want me to study. If this group had existed earlier, I wouldn’t be married today," says Geeta. "I am out of my in-laws' house; the will to live has come back.”
Stand with her
World Vision believes we need to empower women and men to transform relationships. Men Care groups are just one way we’re working with communities, families, girls and boys to end the cycle of poverty and help them build a brighter future for children.