Child Marriages Still Persist in India, What Can Change it For The Better?
Tune in to Episode 7 of Over2Shailaja with me your host Shailaja Chandra!
The controversial Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriage Amendment Bill has once again brought the problem of child marriages in the limelight.
The bill which had made registration of all marriages, including child marriages mandatory, was recalled shortly after it was passed as it triggered endless criticism.
But since we are on the subject of child marriage, let’s face how deep rooted this problem is.
The depraved and illegal practice of child marriage prevails and persists in many Indian states despite the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, which prohibits marriages of girls before they are 18 and boys under 21 years of age.
The NFHS data shows the magnitude of child marriage and it ranges from 20 - 40 percent of all marriages in Indian states.
Data published by the National Crime Records Bureau also shows that in the year 2020 there was a near 50 percent increase compared to 2019 in child marriages. While this could be because of better reporting, there is an all-round acceptance that the pandemic had indeed accelerated child marriages.
Under the Central law, a child can request an annulment of the marriage upto two years after reaching adulthood. Rightly, here the criticism is that the law puts the whole onus on victims – mere kids without financial or social support – to have their marriage be declared void.
Child marriages are a social evil which snatches away childhood and development.
It is unacceptable that a progressive country cannot stop young girls from being forced to undergo underage marriage. Why should they have to deal with pregnancies and child rearing only because a regressive society wills it that way?
While this paints a bleak picture, in episode seven of Over2Shailaja, I try to delve into how things might change for the better.
In this episode I speak to Dr KC James, the Director of the International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai; well known child rights activist Kriti Bharti, who has prevented over 1,500 child marriages around Jodhpur in Rajasthan; Mr Priyank Kanoongo, Chairman of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights; and Dr Ravi Verma, Regional Director for the International Center for Research on Women's Asia Regional Office.
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