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Child bride uses Facebook evidence to annul her illegal underage marriage

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Image: DIEGO AZUBEL/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Thanks to Facebook evidence, an Indian child bride has convinced a court to dissolve her illegal marriage.

19-year-old Sushila Bishnoi had appealed for her marriage to be annulled, on the grounds that she was underage when it took place.

But her ex-husband denied that they were ever betrothed.

So Bishnoi, with the help of an activist, went through her ex-husband’s Facebook account until she found evidence of their marriage, in the form of messages and comments left by friends.

“Many of his friends had posted congratulatory messages on his Facebook page,” Kriti Bharti, an activist whose charity, Sarathi Trust, has helped annul many child marriages, told AFP.

“The court accepted the evidence and declared the marriage invalid,” Bharti said.

Bishnoi and her now ex-husband were married at a secret wedding ceremony in the Indian state of Rajasthan in 2012, when they were both 12.

Rajasthan has the highest incidence of child marriages in the country. Girls who are wed before they are 18, typically live with their parents after the wedding ceremony until they come of age.

Bishnoi said that her parents were planning on forcing her to move to her husband’s house to consummate the marriage.

“I wanted to study but my family and my in-laws wanted me to live with a drunkard,” she told AFP.

“It was about life and death, and I chose to live.”

The case comes just a day after India’s supreme court ruled that it was illegal for men to have sex with their underage wife.

Child protection laws in the country already prohibit an adult from having sex with someone younger than 18, but there was previously an exclusion for married couples.

The new ruling, however, is restricted to just marriages involving minors. Marital rape is still within the bounds of law if the woman is not underage.

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