Laxmi Sargara, India Child Bride, Has Marriage Annulled In Landmark Case

Laxmi Sargara was only a year old when her parents married her to 3-year-old Rakesh. Nearly two decades later, the Indian woman successfully had the marriage annulled in what is considered a landmark judiciary case, Agence France Presse reports.

According to the BBC, Sargara learned about the marriage only this month, when her in-laws came to take her back to their family home.

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

The bride turned to a social worker in her hometown Jodhpur and managed to convince her husband, Rakesh, to have the marriage declared void.

"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," social worker Kriti Bharti told AFP.

Child marriage is illegal in India under the country's Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, yet the practice is common in poorer regions -- such as Sargara's home province Rajasthan -- the BBC reports.

Indu Chopra, a program director of the woman and child development department of Rajasthan state, explained to CNN that child marriages are a "social agreement, a document endorsed by witnesses, lawyers from both sides and attested legally," yet not a marriage legal under Indian law.

In a recent report, UNICEF says 47 percent of Indian women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18.

“Child marriage is linked to poverty, lack of education and, above all, to the entrenched social norms that push parents to marry their daughters off early,” said UNICEF Representative for India Karin Hulshof on the organization's website.