Child marriage is said to be a form of human rights violation. According to report by United Nations Population Fund, that around 39 thousand girls unwillingly sacrifice their childhood everyday by becoming a child bride out of which 140 million are ceded before the age of 18 and a 50 million before 15.
In India, 47 percent of girls are pushed over to the dark side before the legal age of eighteen in the name of tradition. Whereas, Graça Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela said that traditions were made by people and that they could be changed.
The various reasons behind this practise are, it is a tradition and since it has been practised for several years, it continues to be practised. Girls were seen as excess baggage or as a liability and to get rid of their dead weight they were married off. Often seen as inferior to the male, the society feared that if a girl did not get married early and studies further would over power the male, which was not acceptable. Poverty is another reason so in order to lessen the number of people to feed, a girl was married. Security also stood up as a reason, but not security of the girl but the security of the family’s name so in order to minimize the chances of the girl being sexually assaulted, she was lead off to a destructive side.
Many more reasons could be talked about, but, they all had an alternative and a much better solution than giving away their childhood and innocence to the social menace of child marriage.
There are enumerable drawbacks to a child marriage that are usually ignored. A girl, when married at a younger age tends to have responsibilities thrown at her that not only damage her physically but mentally too. They are expected to take care of a completely new family at an age when they don’t even know how to take care of themselves. In order to have them married they are removed from school due to which there is a part of development in her as well as the society that stops because as the saying goes “when you educate a man you educate an individual but when you educate a girl you educate the whole family.”
The girl then has to have sexual relation with an elder husband at an age where she has not even hit puberty which creates chances of various health issues. In places where child marriages still take place, there is a mindset that the bride should have at least one child in the first year of marriage which leads to various health precautions on both the mother as well as the child which at times leads to miscarriages or death of the mother during child birth. There is no room for learning as one is loaded with responsibilities to fulfill and is left no time to work and analyse things and learn which stops the development of a person.
There have been various steps taken to prevent child marriage in India like under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, it is a punishable offence for which a person can be sent to jail for two years, penalised with a fine of one lakh rupees or both. According to The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, makes it illegal for girls to marry under 18 years and for boys less than 21 years.Other laws that may provide protection to against child marriage are the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, the Domestic Violence Act 2005, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012. Initiatives like Lado Abhiyan, White Bindi Project, Child Marriage Programme where the programmes are either led by the state government or various NGOs in various states. Their motive is to stop child marriage and the steps they are taking to do that are by educating girls and their parents about the rights of a girl and how child marriage can damage their mental and physical health , educating the heads and men about the heavy complications that are there for a female in a child marriage, mobilising communities, asking the young ones to take initiative against it, monetary incentives provided to families so that they can fight their poverty without having to marry a child, raising awareness with the help of media and looking for various effective and stricter laws.
Co-Convener Think India, Delhi
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