Indian Teen Defies Arranged Marriage In Favor Of Journalism Career

Khushboo Kamari

There is a lot of negative press coming out from India at the moment, centering on many stories of rape and abuse. It’s shocking and horrific to say the least. But here is a story about a teen girl filled with positivity which we hope will balance out the negativity somewhat, and show that there are strong courageous young women doing amazing things on the sub-continent.

Khushboo Kamari is a 16 year old teenage girl who lives in the state of Bihar in Northern India. It is one of the poorest states in the country riddled with caste and gender struggles. Generally, women in this region are destined to fulfill a stereotypical domestic role within the house and rarely have hopes and dreams outside of that confinement.

Khushboo is a bit an an anomaly as she has a cool part time job working at her local news station called ‘Appan Samachar‘ which is a network aimed at village communities, run by women, created for women. It was founded by Indian activist and journalist Santosh Sarang in 2007. The network encourage and empower young women to think outside the social and cultural boundary lines they are so used to, by getting them involved in writing, researching, and editing news stories. What a fantastic media opportunity for these struggling women!

Khushboo is one of those young women who have become hooked on the journalism lifestyle and she has been producing, presenting, filming and editing news stories with a focus on women’s rights across their remote and conservative district for screening in the local market. It doesn’t end there for the young revolutionary.

While she at the age where her parents are actively trying to arrange her marriage, Kamari instead has plans to launch her own newspaper and resist a tradition which only serves to crush the hopes and dreams of young girls. A shocking statistic says that 69 percent of arranged marriages in the state of Bihar are child marriages.

Indian filmmaker form the same state, Kumud Ranjan, is making a documentary on the young girl called ‘Khushboo’s Deadline‘ which will follow her story of trying to fulfill her dreams of becoming a journalist.

Khushboo Kamari

“I began following Khusboo during my days as a TV journalist, which gave me rare access to her world. She opened up to me and I was immediately drawn in by her amazing spirit. Considering her background and the fact that she has come so far, her achievements are nothing short of a miracle.” he tells Al Jazeera network.

“But behind her happy demeanour she hides her pain – pain which would have already broken a weaker person. It is for this spirit that I salute Khushboo, whose strength has set an example for other girls in her village to follow.”

Khushboo herself has shared her own story with Al Jazeera and gives an insight to the type of subject matter that gives her the fire to speak up. She talks about the plight of young Indian girls, some as young as 12, forced to marry much older men. Instead of being treated with love and respect, they are forced to live with their inlaws, and become a house slave, in essence.

She mentions one young girl, 16 year old Shilpi Kumaru whose in laws would regularly beat her or throw boiling water on her if she made small mistakes, and once even tried to kill her by tying her to a train track. Thankfully she managed to escape, and Khushboo feels it is her duty to report on these injustices and give young girls a voice in the world.

“There are many more cases like Shipi’s. These girls believe that in such a male-dominated society they have no other option but to accept the abuse and harassment. I often wonder about the fate of these girls, I feel their pain and mourn the end of their dreams at such a young age.” she writes in her article.

“At Appan Samachar we have very limited resources but we wish to cover more stories like Shilpi’s in order to give a voice to these poor girls. We strongly believe that if people hear these stories they will change their attitude and even support their struggle. I hope this will happen very soon.”

Watch Khushboo’s Deadline right here and get informed of the incredible and powerful things young girls are doing all around the world.


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