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Indian Teen Laxmi Sargara Annuls ‘Marriage’ Arranged at Age 1

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in India, a young woman has legally annulled a marriage that was arranged when she was just one year old.

Agence France-Presse reports that 18-year-old Laxmi Sargara, from northern Rajasthan state, was unaware that she’d been wed to a 20-year-old man named Rakesh, who was three years old at the time the union was arranged, until his family came to claim her earlier this month.

The news shocked and depressed Laxmi, who then sought the assistance of Sarathi Trust, a local non-governmental organization in Jodhpur City.

“I was unhappy about the marriage,” she told AFP. “I told my parents who did not agree with me, then I sought help.”

“She got depressed. She did not like the boy and was not ready to go ahead with her parent’s decision,” Kriti Bharti of Sarathi Trust told AFP.

“It is the first example we know of a couple wed in childhood wanting the marriage to be annulled, and we hope that others take inspiration from it,” Bharti added.

Rakesh, who wanted to go ahead with the marriage, backed down after counseling from Sarathi Trust.

Child marriages are illegal in India under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. Laxmi and Rakesh signed affidavits declaring their marriage null and void before a Jodhpur notary and the union was legally dissolved.

Although such marriages are illegal, it is estimated that 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India. Jodhpur journalist Narayan Bareth told AFP that a recent survey found that one in ten girls in Rajasthan are married off before their 18th birthdays.

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