Few agencies or new stories acknowledge the harmful impact that forced marriage has on boys and men. An article in today’s Daily Mail highlights the story of 16-year-old Prakash Prajapat of Jodhpur, western India. Just days before his wedding, young Prakash learned that his parents had arranged his marriage to a 13-year-old girl from a neighboring town – a girl he’d never met before. After Prakash’s parents refused his desperate pleas to call off the nuptials, the child groom turned to an NGO – the Sarathi Trust for child marriages – for help.
Sarathi representative Kriti Bharti attempted to convince Prakash’s father to call off the wedding, but his intervention only promoted the family to move the ceremony to a secret location. Prakash succeeded in texting Bharti his new location, and Bharti immediately notified authorities. A police team arrived and put a stop to the illegal ceremony just moments before Prakash and his child bride were forced to take their vows. India’s Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006 establishes a minimum legal age for marriage of 18 for girls and 21 for boys. “I can only hope Prakash continues to message me if they try again,” Bharti told The Daily Mail, “I keep in touch with him every day to be sure he’s okay.”
The U.S. State Department’s forced marriage guidance estimates that as many as 15% of forced marriage victims are male. GJI director Julia Alanen cautions, “Although gender norms frequently render women and girls particularly vulnerable to harmful marriage practices, it is critical that remedies and resources developed to combat forced and early marriage address all victim demographics.”
READ MORE: Teenage boy saves himself from forced marriage by texting Indian authorities to report his family, Daily Mail (August 15, 2012).