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Mala III

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Early marriage problems resolved

Shanti (not her real name) is a 15-year old girl from Jumla district. Her father died few years ago and her mother has suffered from various physical ailments over the last two years. Her two elder brothers have moved away. At age 15 Shanti married without informing her mother. Her husband lived with her in his maternal uncle’s home for 15 days, but then took her back to her mother and went away to India, making no further contact with Shanti and her mother. After this there were difficulties between Shanti and her mother, as her mother neglected to care for her, verbally abused and quarrelled with her, blaming her for her situation and telling her to go and live somewhere else. Shanti felt lonely, sad, anxious and humiliated by her situation, and often stayed at friends’ homes after a dispute with her mother and the consequent psychological reactions.

Shanti was identified as an “at risk” child and so the social worker visited her regularly to build her trust and collect information about the family members and their relationships. The social worker shared her concerns with CMC, saying she feared that Shanti could be remarried against her will, run off with someone unsuitable, or move to a big city where she would be vulnerable to exploitation. She might even commit suicide if she did not receive more support from her mother.

CMC staff encouraged the social worker to continue meeting with Shanti as a caring friend and to further explore her situation with her, including her feelings about her husband and possible pregnancy. They also advised the social worker on how to listen actively and empathetically to Shanti’s mother’s views, and to counsel her to love and care for Shanti so that they can support each other as family in their future lives and into old age.

The social worker followed this advice and slowly the situation improved. Mother gradually started to care for Shanti, listening to her accounts of her suffering. In return Shanti began to support her mother in daily household activities. A year later the husband came back from India, visited Shanti and her mother and finally took Shanti to his home. Now Shanti is happy as a wife, fulfilling her role in her husband’s household. Family members also care for and support her.

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