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Is India Free from Child Marriage?

What do you think is the answer? Well, sadly, it’s a NO. According to a UN report, India has the second highest number of child marriages, which is really not a good thing. According to UNICEF, India will take another 50 years to abolish child marriage. Now, this is disheartening. Is the scenario so bad? States such as Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh still practise child marriage. Also, when we talk about child marriage, it’s the girls who suffer the most, as they’re the ones who are usually forced to get married at an early age.


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What’s Child Marriage?

According to Indian law, if a girl is below 18 years of age and the boy is below 21 years of age, then the marriage is considered a child marriage.


Why is Child Marriage Deep Rooted?

There are numerous reasons why child marriages happen in certain parts of the country.


Traditions: Parents marry off their daughters at an early age because they believe that it’s the tradition to do so and it can’t be broken. The one who breaks it faces the brunt of society.


Poverty: Poverty is another reason children are married off at an early age, especially girls. An early marriage eases out the burden of at least one family member.


Large families: Large families in India are those where a couple have more than two children. If a family is poor and with more than two children, then parents prefer marrying them off as early as possible. Often the eldest daughter/son is married at an early age, so the rest of the siblings don’t face any delay.


Status of women: The status of women in India has always been a debatable topic. Girls are still considered a burden in many parts of the country and hence the early marriage.


Mentality: Yes, the mentalities of people matter to a very large extent. People feel that if they marry their daughters at an early age, then they’ll be safe from physical and sexual assaults.

Although all these reasons aren’t concrete enough to encourage or support child marriage, they have a strong hold in Indian communities which support child marriages. However, we need to understand that howsoever strong the reasons, they aren’t strong enough to validate child marriage.


Child Marriage Laws


The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929: The law states that no girl below 18 years and no boy below 21 years can be forced to get married. If somebody forces them, then he/she can face an imprisonment of 15 days or will have to pay a fine of Rs 1000.


The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006: The law was passed to make up for the shortcomings of the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929. The age limit for marriage has been kept the same in this law. Some additional points were added to help minors who got married. Points such as the right to nullify your marriage were added with this law.


The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women: CEDAW establishes that every woman has the right to choose their spouse and have similar responsibilities. The convention aims at ending discrimination against women.

The number of cases of child marriages has indeed reduced as compared to the past, but there’s still a lot to do to stop the practice. Only awareness can help us get rid of this problem. Now that you know about the laws and the causes of child marriage, go ahead and spread the word.


-Pratibha Yadav


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