May 11, 2013

She broke free from child marriage to emerge school topper in Class XII exam

S. Jeyaprabha (19) of Nondi Kovil Patti at Melur near here, is an example of what girls can achieve if freed from familial and societal pressure.

Given in marriage at 14 after her eighth standard, she broke up with her husband at the age of 16, completed her Standard X examinations as a private candidate and has ultimately emerged as a school topper with 1,136 out of 1,200 marks in the Plus Two examinations held this year.

S. Jeyaprabha
And she almost gave up studies last year, as the head of the government school decided to bar married girls from continuing their studies, as they may set a wrong example to other students. She got back her place in school after The Hindu reported it and higher authorities intervened.

Her mother S. Vimala rues the decision to marry her off to her brother, as per a prevailing community practice. “I thought she would take care of my aged parents if I give her in marriage to my only brother. But I didn’t expect him to be a drunkard. I curse myself now.”

After losing two years of studies, she wrote the Standard X examinations as a private candidate and scored 469 out of 500 marks. She joined the Government Girls Higher Secondary School at Melur.

She has now completed Class XII with 199 marks each in chemistry and biology, 188 in mathematics, 186 in physics, 190 in Tamil and 174 in English.

“She aspires to study medicine and has a cut off of 195.75 marks.

Daughter of cycle mechanic

“Belonging to a Backward Class, I don’t know whether she will get a free medical seat in a government college. Her father runs a shop that tends to cycle punctures and doesn’t earn much,” says the girl’s relative S. Pandiselvi.

“My maternal grandparents want me to live with their son and are refusing to part with my jewels and other articles given during the wedding. But I am determined not to go to him because now I know that child marriage is not valid in law and I need not apply for formal divorce. My search now is for a benefactor who will help me realise my dream of becoming a doctor,” she said.

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