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She is 11, goes to school but there is a catch; she has been married to a man more than twice her age who is also the husband of her handicapped sister.


The future of children and particularly girls with disabilities has always been a source of concern.

Often their already grim lives turn to nightmares after the demise of their mother when the reins of the home passes on to a new entrant: the elder daughter-in-law.

It is for this reason that we try at pwhy to teach each and every special child basic living skills so that he or she can remain within the home. Often we have to argue with parents who try and see the child as normal and chart out a life for her which leads to marriage as the very Ponce Pilatus option: I would have washed my hands off her. No one ever thinks of the plight of the girl in a new home.

Yesterday a TV channel aired a story that disturbed me a lot. A father had married his deaf and dumb girl to a much older man; only there was a catch: he also married his 11 year old second daughter to the same man! His explanation was brutally simple: his disabled daughter would find a home.

The understanding was that daughter no 2 - still a child - would remain in her parental home till she finished school. Only that is not what happened, soon after daughter no 1's wedding, the in-laws started abusing her and insisted that daughter no 2 come immediately. Apparently this case is not unique, many parents of disabled daughters have had recourse to this.

I know that everyone reading this blog will be horrified, but seven years in pwhy have taught me to look at the larger picture before condemning anyone. True that the authorities have moved in, the father is behind bars, the younger daughter still in school does not quite understand the situation, and the handicapped young woman is back home, her future as bleak as ever.

Now had the 'deal' worked, it would have remained a secret and the sisters would have lived together. The larger question nobody seems to be addressing is: what will happen to them now and what is the future of the innumerable young women with disabilities in a country that has no option for them?







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