CHILD MARRIAGE LAWS IN INDIA-Vaibhav sharma

Child marriage is a very old practice in  Indian society and culture. Child marriage is defined as a marriage   between two people where the female is below the age of 18 years and the male is below the age of 21 years according to the Law. Child marriages usually take place in rural areas of India where illiteracy and poverty are high and they people are not known to the Law related to child marriage. The main reason of child marriages are  ignorance, social customs and traditions, low level of education and considering women as a property or burden.

The reason why  Child marriages are illegal in India is due to some issues related to  health problems to women due to early age pregnancies, further degrading  the status of women and a vicious cycle of gender inequality . Keeping this in mind, the British government brought into power the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 which was the first secular law to stop  child marriage in India . But, it did not make the marriage void by itself. It only give an idea about punishments for an adult male who married a minor and the parents who promoted such marriages. But the main reason of the failure of the Act is that  the punishment was very less, and the fine was of a very small amount.

The Act was amended now and then to increase the age limit. But , it  too failed to achieve its objective. According to a report by UN  “Improving Children’s Lives, Transforming the Future — 25 years of child rights in South Asia” by the United Nations’ children agency, UNICEF, India has the second highest number of child marriages with 43% of women aged 20-24 were first married by the age of 18 between 2005-2013

 

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the first Indian man to raise his voice against the evil systems of Sati pratha, polygamy, child marriage, widow remarriage and oppression of women in India. He was the founder of  Brahmo Samaj which deals with the social reforms in India at that time.

Further in case of child marriage  Keshab Chandra Sen who persuaded the British Govt to pass the Special Marriage Act in 1872. It made the marriageable age of a boy to be 18 years and for a girl 14 years, child marriage and polygamy were made illegal, allowed widow-remarriages and marriage between people of different castes and religions. It also allowed divorce.

Child Marriage in different personal laws and secular law-

  1. Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
  2. Hindu Marriage Act, 1956
  3. Muslim Personal Law

Comment-                                       

Child Marriage is virus that cannot be killed  without the  support from the society. There have been demands to make child marriage void ab initio under the Prohibition of Child Marriages Act, but Indian society is complicated and complex and making child marriages void will only risk the rights of women who are victims of child marriage. In my idea only Uniform Civil Code would help in preventing child marriage to some extent with strict punishments.

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