Standing up against your kin requires a lot more courage than standing up against your enemies. And that’s what little Roja Khatoon did when she was forced to marry at the age of fourteen years.
Roja is a part of our adolescent girls group of Murshidabad. The group was formed to empower girls and lead them in right paths and teach them how to protect and stand up for themselves. When sh turned 14, her father arranged for her marriage. When she told us the news, we paid a visit to her home and could convince her family that Roja is too young to get married
But her father was not one who would stop at that. He arranged for her marriage once again and this time brought in the groom directly for a spot marriage. An infuriated Roja escaped and went straight to a police station and registered a complaint against her family, leaving everyone astonished. You might find it hard to believe that she had to go to the police three more times because her family kept on finding matrimonial matches for her.
Roja had a dream and she proved that she would do anything to achieve it. She was very passionate about football, and having grown up in an anti feminist society, she never got a chance to even touch a football. So Jabala helped the ambitious girl build a girls football team and she was made its captain. Roja is a very passionate learner and a great captain. The other teammates look up to her. She led the team to victory at the state level football championships.
The feather in the cap to Roja’s story is that she got selected in National Women’s football team and is soon going to go to Germany to play. She got many laurels and awards from the state government for resisting child marriage and for setting such a bold example for others.