A little girl, no more than perhaps nine or 10 years old, cries as she is led through the ceremonial rituals. She’s at a wedding—her own wedding in fact—and she’s one of several young child brides on just that day alone. She is participating in part of a mass child marriage ceremony, where young brides are married off in groups.
Although the legal age to marry in India is 18 for girls and 21 for boys, these child weddings are still held in secret. Despite this, UNICEF reports that almost a third of the world’s child weddings happen in India.
These practices are shockingly common in many parts of the world. In this instance, secret footage was filmed at one such ceremony in a part of rural northern India.
Heartbreakingly, these young girls as young as five years old—often seeing crying or tearful—are lead through marriage rituals by their fathers. Priest scold the children for their tears.
These particular marriages are a part of a Hindu ritual as part of the two-day festival known as Akshaya Tritiya.
In one clip from the shocking footage below, a crying girl is married to an 11-year-old groom.
According to the Daily Mail, local police are investigating the footage—and confirmed that if caught, the children’s marriages will be void. However for now the families are believed to be on the run to avoid capture.
In the meantime civil rights activists are outraged that authorities have not taken more proactive measures to prevent these weddings.
See the heartbreaking footage in the clip below.