Rekha Kalindi is now 18, but her story will be shared for years to come. Born and brought up in Purilia, West Bengal, Rekha stood up against her family when they were all set to marry her off at the tender age of 11. She fought for her right to study further, and is proudly doing so today, against all odds. India’s own Malala today gives talks in educational institutions, has published her memoirs with Penguin, and is an inspiration for many.
Back in 2008, Rekha was faced with the prospect of being married off when all she wanted to do was study further. Her older sister had also been married off at the age of 12 and had suffered four still births . Rekha wanted to study further, but was violently beaten, prevented from going to school, and deprived of food by her own family. Rekha recalls her torture in a memoir as reported by the Daily Mail, ‘I cry and shout, but nobody comes to intervene. After several minutes she stops. ‘I remain lying on the floor, shaking from the fear that she might start hitting me again.’
Rekha’s book, The Strength To Say No, was written by Sarah Lawson in collaboration of Mouhssine Ennaimi. It was translated into English from Ennaimi’s much-acclaimed French original. “I was moved by Rekha’s story. For someone so young she has incredible strength and tenacity. She showed immense bravery by standing up against centuries of tradition. I felt compelled to tell her story and give her a platform to reach a wider audience, raise awareness, see change and inspire others to do the same,” Ennaimi told PTI (Source: The Times of India.)
Rekha Kalindi is now in class 10 and continues to be ambitious in life. She wants to become a nurse when she grows up and is an inspiration for many more young girls in India.