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Teen Novel Highlights Issue of Child Marriage in India


The latest novel from Halifax-based author, Marcia E. Barss, Shanti Fights for Her Rights, is a fictionalized story based on the reality of the ongoing illegal practice of child marriage in India. It releases on February 21, partner published by OC Publishing.

“Girls in rural India face many challenges because parents are not interested in investing in the education of their daughters,” said Dr. Mamatha Raghuveer Achanta, Founder of Tharuni, a non-profit in India working towards the empowerment of adolescent girls. “I have stopped many child marriages, but sometimes we don’t know the difficulties girls go through with their families. I am sure those who read this beautiful story will realise the ill effects of child marriages and try to support girls.” 

The story follows fourteen-year-old Shanti who lives in a village in eastern India, where her parents work in the rice fields. She attends school in a town forty kilometres away and hopes to become a teacher. But while she is home on vacation, her mother gives birth to another girl. Shanti’s father declares she must leave school to care for her baby sister. He also makes plans for Shanti to be married as soon as possible, despite the law against girls under eighteen being forced into marriage. 

“I wrote this story to encourage and support girls in claiming their right to an education,” said Barss, who lived in India most of her childhood. “Educating and empowering girls is the impetus to ending child marriage.”  

A few years ago, Barss returned to India, visiting people she knew and places she had lived. She stayed with friends at Bridge of Hope, an NGO that includes a residential program for children from rural communities, vocational training, and a medical center. Marcia’s experiences in India and talking with girls who were determined to get an education despite challenges, provided inspiration for this book.

Advance reviews:

“Shanti features a feisty yet sympathetic and relatable main character, a compelling plot, and lots of authentic detail about the challenging lives of girls and women in rural India. This timely and well-written story will have readers cheering Shanti and her friends on, as they fight for their rights to an education and an end to child marriage. Just like me, both children and adults will love and learn from this heartfelt book!”

Vivien Gorham, author of Touch of Gold and Spirit of Summerwood

“A beautifully detailed, suspenseful story about a young girl fighting to free herself from an impossible situation. Shanti’s courage in standing up for her rights against the culture of her community and her family’s wishes helps other girls do the same and shows how one voice can make a difference.”

Jacqueline Halsey, author of Piper

Shanti Fights for Her Rights is now available for pre-order online on Chapters/IndigoAmazon and Barnes & Noble, and can be ordered by any bookstore, book seller, library or other retailer from the Ingram catalogue or directly through OC Publishing. For more information on the author and her books visit and for more on OC Publishing visit


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