child marriage

In this article, Karan Singh of JGLS discusses Steps to take if a child you know is forced into child marriage by their parents.

“Educating Girls Is One Of The Most Powerful Tools To Prevent Child Marriage”

Girls Not Brides-The Global Partnership To End Child Marriage

Introduction

Let’s talk about marriage and its legality in India. What should one do if you see a forced marriage?. Forced marriage is when the marriage is forced on either spouse by threat, duress, blackmail, harassment etc. When the spouse is not ready and no consent is given for marriage then also the marriage is forced on the spouse is called forced marriage.

The legal age for a boy to marry in India is 21 years and for a girl is 18 years old. If anyone like parents, brother, or relative force the child before the legal age to get married will come under child marriage. An alarming 30.2% or 10.3 crore girls were married before they had turned 18 in 2011 as per Census data[1]. As per data of the National Crime Records Bureau, a total number of 169, 222 and 280 case have been registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 in the year 2012, 2013 and 2014.[2]

Child marriage is not only illegal but also not healthy for a child as it takes away the childhood of a kid who wants to study or become something. But forcing the child to marry affects the child in various ways.

The main reason for child marriage is gender inequality and the belief in Indian society that girls are inferior to boys. Girls are not values aa much as boys and is a burden to her own family. They are forced to get married in young age as the burden is transferred to the husband’s family. Also, if a girl who has a relationship or becomes pregnant outside the marriage are shamed for bringing dishonor to the family.

The second reason for child marriage is because of the tradition and culture. This future or tradition is followed in many small districts or villages. This is done to save the culture. Traditional practices are not questioned as these practices are going on for a very long time and no one dares to question it.

Poverty is one of the reasons why families in India force her child to marry. As a girl is considered a burden for her family. The Girl child is forced to marry someone so that the family does not have to take care of her any longer. This is the reason why child marriage happens mostly in small villages. Poverty can be considered the main reason for a child marriage in India.[3]

As many as 157 minor girls were rescued from child marriage in last five months in this year by the CWC And the district authority. As per CWC, 90 % of the call on 1098 are from children, mostly friend of those being pushed into child marriage.[4]

In India, there are many rules and Acts that prevent child marriage. There are acts particularly for a common religion and acts that can be followed by any religion. Hindu Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act, Indian Christian Marriage Act etc are the provisions given to prevent child marriage for different religions. The prohibition of child marriage act, 2006 also prevent child marriage act. This act can be followed by any religion.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) with support from Young Lives India.

On 25th April 2017 National State Legal Authority and Delhi State Legal Authority from different States like Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana State Legal Authority participated in the consultation of National Commission For Protection of Child Rights which focused on the implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006. During the Consultation, the legal experts and officials focused on different policies which are related to child marriage act like Indian Penal Code, the protection of children from sexual offences act 2012, the juvenile justice act 2015 as well as the personal law of different religion. The aim was to synchronise provisions of these act without disturbing the spirit behind the laws.[5]

Acts that abolishes the practice of child marriage

The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Section 5(iii) of the Act states the legal age as for boys 21 and for girls 18. This section of the Act prevents anyone to marry before the legal age. And no-one can get registered under this act if it is marriage is before the legal age.

Muslim Marriage Act

Under this act, the legal age of marriage is the age of puberty. And anyone can get married at the age of 15 years. But marriage before the age of 7 years is Void and this act prevents it.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

This act prevents child marriage and punishes who entices the child marriage. Section 3 of this act makes the marriage voidable at the option of contracting party being a child. Punishments under this acts are:

  • Punishment for Male Adult: If an adult male above 18 years of age contracts child marriage will be punished with rigorous imprisonment for 2 years or with fine which may extend to 1 lakh rupees both.[6]
  • Punishment for solemnizing Marriage: If any person conducts, directs, abets any child to marry before the legal age shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for 2 years or with fine which may extend to 1 lakh rupees or both.[7]
  • Punishment for promoting solemnisation of marriage: Any person whether parents or guardian or any other person promotes or does any act to permit child marriage or negligently fails to prevent it from being solemnized shall be punishable for 2 years or with fine which may extend up to 1 lakh rupees or both.[8]

Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929

(Also known as the Sarda Act), passed on 28 September 1929, fixed the age of marriage for girls at 14 years and boys at 18 years. Child Restraint Act was amended in 1978 to increase the minimum age of marriage to 18 for girls and 21 for boys. Child Restraint Act was a legislature which only existed on paper and do not stand anywhere to prevent child marriage. In this Act, the child marriage was punished with Rs. 1000 and it was not voidable. Once the marriage is performed it was valid.

What Steps can you take if you see a child being forced by parents to marry

  • The first step should be to talk to her parents and make them understand that child marriage is wrong and should not be promoted. Make them understand that it is illegal in India to force a child to marry and legal steps can be taken against them. If they do not listen and then also force the child to marry then,
  • Then you should contact the women cell of the local police of the city and file a written complaint against the parents for forcing a child for marriage. Any person can report an incidence of child marriage before or after it has been solemnised. An immediate report needs to be made to the Police, the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer or such persons as may be appointed to assist him/her, first Class Judicial Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate.
  • You can even contact the District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) through the child helpline number 1098 which operates all over India.

Childline India Foundation is an NGO that works for children who are in stress. The address for the Childline 1098 is provided below:

CHILDLINE India Foundation

406, Sumer Kendra, 4th floor,

  1. B. Marg, Worli,

Mumbai 400 018, Maharashtra

You can call us on: 022-2495 2610, 2495 2611, 2482 1098 / 2490 1098/ 2491 1098, 2490 3507

Website: http://www.childlineindia.org.in/

  • You can also call the nearest NGOs, that prevents child marriage. Some of the NGOs are provided below:

NGO’s working to curb the menace of child marriages in india

  • Delhi: Butterflies – Delhi Childline Agency, U-4, First Floor, Green Park Extension, New Dehli, Delhi91-11-26191063, 91E-mail: bflies@ndf.vsnl.net.in ,
  • Hyderabad: Society for Education Research and Development (SEREDE), 204, Pavani Lake View Apartments, Miyapur, Hyderabad – 500050 Serede9@yohoo.co.in Ph.- 9440679486
  • Bihar: NIDAN 3rd floor, Sudama Bhawan, Boring Road, Patna-1 Ph- 0612-2571702, nidanpatna@rediffmail.com
  • Jharkhand: Rah Society Vill+ P.O- Khairachatar, Bokaro, Jharkhand, Ph- 09308880140, E-mail: rah_society@indiya.com
  • Maharastra: Nehru Yuva Mandal Farkande Tal. Erandol Dist. Jalgaon, Ph.-02588-245187
  • Rajasthan: Samuhik Vikas Sansthan, Shri Nathulal Choudhary, Patel Road, Niwai, Tonk, Ph- 01438-224310
  • Madhya Pradesh: Gramya Vikas Mandal, Sanaval (BAdagaon), Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, Ph- 07594-223221, 0942441
  • Rajasthan: Mahila Mandal Agor, Rawala, Senti, Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, Ph-01472-241472
  • Chhattisgarh: Gramin Vikas Parishad, bhatia colony jashpur road pathalgaon, Jashpur, Chhattisgarh, Ph- 7765234000
  • Bangalore: SUMANA (Society for Rural Development), Post Box No. 5, SIDHARTHA LAYOUT, MYSORE Pin: 570011, Mysore, Karnataka, Ph- 082-12470336
  • Punjab: Darpan(an image of innocence), 80, gurdev nagar, pakhowal road, 141001, Ludhiana, Punjab, Ph- 0161-4613463, M:09779913463, E-mail: darpanautism @ com, Website: www.darpanautism.org
  • Uttar Pradesh: Social Welfare Institute, “KANAK VILLA”, Plot No-46, Ganeshpur, Tarna (Near Tata Indicom Tower), Shivpur, Varanasi-221003, (UP)., 09415268049 / 09335318836 / 0542-2283815, Mail- swi_vns@satyam.net.in
  • West Bengal: Netaji Pathochakra, O. Tikashi via Haria, Block – Khujari – 1, Dist. Midnapur, Pin-721430, Mob. 9433267140, Ph: 03220-276253 (O) / 276277 (Resi of President).

What is the Impact of child marriage on a child?

The Child does face negative impact after the marriage. Girl child feels disempowered and is deprived of the fundamental right to education, health, and safety. The Girl child is not ready to become a mother in such a small age, they are at great risk of experiencing dangerous complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Due to no access to education, her family is more likely to live in poverty. She also suffers from domestic violence from her husband or husband ’s relatives as she is not able to do any household work in such a small age. The Child also has fundamental rights along with basic necessities which she is deprived of.

Young brides face a higher risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases owing to her marriage with an older man with more sexual encounters.[9]

Can a child marriage be annulled after being solemnised

Child Marriage does not automatically become void. It means that if the child marriage is solemnised, spoused can not end it automatically. The divorce order has to be taken from the court if the the age of spouses is more than 18 years.

YES, a child marriage can be annulled after being solemnised. This can be done either by her parents, guardian or by the child himself. Legal remedies after child marriage:

If a child is married before her legal age by her parents or guardian, then also child has the power to repudiate it. There are provisions through which a child can repudiate it.

  • By the help of Guardian- If a child does not want to stay with the husband or wife then he/she can repudiate the marriage with the help of the guardian.
  • The Option of Puberty- A child can file for the option of puberty which provides relief from marriage after 15 years of age till 18 years of age. A child can demand to repudiate the marriage under Muslim or Hindu law.
  • Prohibition of child marriage act- Section 3 of the Act gives power to the child to repudiate the marriage after the age of majority till 2 years. After attaining majority till 2 years, child can order for repudiation in the court. [10]

Are there any compensation provided by the government for such issues?

Taking about maintenance and Custody of the child. The prohibition of child marriage Act, 2006 provides maintenance and custody according to sections:

  • Section 16(3)(g): The Act is empowered to provide support and all possible aid including medical and legal aid to children affected by child marriages.
  • Section 4(1): The adult husband must pay maintenance to the minor girl until her re-marriage. In case the husband is a minor at the time of marriage, his guardian will pay maintenance.
  • Sections 5 and 6: Children born from a child marriage are entitled to custody and maintenance because the law considers such children legitimate for all purposes even after the marriage has been annulled.
  • Section 7: A District Court is empowered to add to, modify or revoke any order relating to maintenance and custody of children born from a child marriage.

Conclusion

Child Marriage in India is increasing day by day and it should be stopped as it is not healthy for the child and their future. Children of India are the future of India and to make India’s future bright we have to stop child marriage.

There are so many provisions that prevent child marriage and it is illegal to conduct a child marriage because of many reasons. But we should not ruin a child’s life for some reason. We should educate a child and not destroy their life. Educate your girl child like you do for your son. They are not brides. This will help the society to prevent child marriage.

“STOP CHILD MARRIAGE”.

References

[1] http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/child-marriage-women-india-census-data-2011-2826398/

[2]http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-child-marriage-670-cases-registered-in-three-year-period-2207049

[3] http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/why-does-it-happen/

[4]http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/when-a-helpline-curtailed-child-marriages/article18592993.ece

[5] http://younglives-india.org/news/young-lives-support-legal-consultation-child-marriage

[6] Section 9, The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

[7] Section 10, The Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act, 2006

[8] Section 11, The Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act, 2006

[9] http://www.breakthrough.tv/earlymarriage/2013/08/impact-early-marriage-domestic-violence-sexuality/

[10] M. Janaki vs. K. Vairamuthu, Madras HC, 29.02.2016)

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