File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Implementation Of The Child Marriage Prohibition Act In The Current Era

Child marriage violates children's rights and places them at high risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse. Child marriage affects both girls and boys, but it affects girls disproportionately. It is defined as a marriage of a girl or boy before the age of 18 and refers to both formal marriages and informal unions in which children under the age of 18 live with a partner as if married.

Estimates suggest that at least 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India each year, which makes it home to the largest number of child brides in the world - accounting for a third of the global total. Nearly 16 percent of adolescent girls aged 15-19 are currently married.

A deeply rooted social norm, child marriage provides glaring evidence of widespread gender inequality and discrimination. It is the result of the interplay of economic and social forces. In communities where the practice is prevalent, marrying a girl as a child is part of a cluster of social norms and attitudes that reflect the low value according to the human rights of girls.

This research paper is to study the prohibition of the child marriage act, its effectiveness of the act, and whether the prohibition of child marriage act has reached most parts of our country and are remote areas aware of this act.

Introduction:
[1]Child marriage is considered one of the burning and hot issues in Indian society. It refers to a social phenomenon practiced in some societies in India, where a young girl (below the age of fifteen) is married to an adult man. Another form of practice of child marriage is that the parents of the would-be bride and groom arrange a future marriage. In this kind of marriage both, the girl and the boy do not meet each other until they reach the marriageable age. Child marriage constitutes a gross violation of human rights, leaving physical, psychological, and emotional scars for life.

Many factors are considered to be the reasons for the prevalence of child marriages. Some of them are Gender inequality, social norms, perceived low status of girls, poverty, lack of education, safety concerns about girl children, and control over sexuality.

In India, It is estimated that there are over 24 million child brides. According to the National Family Health Survey, 40% of the World's 60 million child marriages take place in India. According to the International Centre for Research on Women, India has the 14 highest rates of child marriages in the world.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 came into force on 1 March 2006 in India. The act forbids child marriages in India. It also protects and assists the victims of child marriages.

In October 2021, the Supreme Court of India gave a landmark judgment criminalizing sex with a child bride, hence removing an exception in India's criminal jurisprudence which had until then viewed the consummation of marriage with a minor wife as legal.

Hindu Marriage Act 1956, Muslim Personal Law, Indian Christian Marriage Act (ICMA), Legal Action on Marital Rape, and CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) are some other laws against child marriage.

History Of Child Marriage Act:
Child marriage was outlawed in 1929, under Indian law. However, in the British colonial times, the legal minimum age of marriage was set at 14 for girls and 18 for boys. Under protests from Muslim organizations in undivided British India, a personal law Sharia Act was passed in 1937 that allowed child marriages with consent from a girl's guardian.

After India's independence in 1947, the act underwent two revisions. The minimum legal age for marriage was increased to 15 for girls in 1949, and to 18 for females and 21 for males in 1978. The child marriage prevention laws have been challenged in Indian courts, with some Muslim Indian organizations seeking no minimum age and that the age matter is left to their law. Child marriage is an active political subject as well as a subject of continuing cases under review in the highest courts of India.

[2]In India, records of child marriage (as it has long been referred to) date as far back as pre-colonial times. Finding legitimacy through religious texts, this formerly 'upper-caste' practice became widespread across society by the 19th century.13 By adhering to rigid social norms about what is classified as an 'ideal match,' child marriage made it easier to protect 'blood purity and social boundaries. Its primary function was to ensure that childbearing took place within the confines of one's own caste and religion.

Girls were commonly married before they were 10 years old, and the ceremony was conducted whenever a potential match was found, even if in the child's infancy. In such cases, the ritual was separated from the consummation of marriage, which was permitted (and encouraged) as soon as the bride attained puberty.

In 1891, this reform was the first of its kind, where political mobilization led by reformers within India and abroad, around an issue concerning women, was linked to a successful change in the law. Although it was not particularly significant, the bill did give the reform movement national recognition, and the question of child marriage became an inescapable part of nationalist ideologies.

Finally, in 1927, Rai Sahib Harbilas Sarda introduced the Child Marriage Restraint Bill, setting a minimum age of marriage at 14 years for girls and 18 years for boys. He argued that legislating the age of consent did not address child marriage, stating that his bill, if passed and enforced, would end the problem of child widows and give female children an opportunity to develop physically and mentally.

The women's movement agenda included domestic violence and dowry, but child marriage, though closely tied to both, stayed in the shadows. All subsequent changes to the age at marriage component of the Sarda Act and the passing of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in 2006 happened independently of attention from the women's movement. Most of these legal efforts have been intended to reduce the fertile years of girls within marriage, as a means to limit the country's population growth and reduce its health care costs. None of these have focused on empowering young girls or challenging the patriarchy.

[3]Child Marriage In India:
Almost half of all girls in India marry before the age of 18. This study explores the factors contributing to child marriage in India and examines the impact of Plan International's initiatives. Almost half of all girls in India marry before the age of 18.

This study explores the factors contributing to child marriage in India, causes and consequences of early marriage.

Status Of Child Marriage In India:
More than 40% of the world's child marriages take place in India. Almost half of all girls here marry before the age of 18 years; 47% of women aged 20 to 24 were married before age 18.

Between 1992-93 and 2005-06, the incidence of child marriage in India declined by approximately 7%. In some states, however, child marriage prevalence still exceeds 60%, with the highest rates found in Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. The problem is worse in rural India as compared to urban areas, with 56 and 29% prevalence respectively.

Objectives:
  1. To study the Prohibition of child marriage act.
  2. Effectiveness of the Prohibition of child marriage act.
  3. Awareness of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.
Need To Study:
Gender inequality means that women and girls are treated as second-class citizens, denied their human rights, and valued less because of their sex. Child marriage is one expression of this gender inequality. Gender inequality means that women and girls are treated as second-class citizens, denied their human rights, and valued less because of their sex. Child marriage is one expression of this gender inequality.

Child marriage violates the rights of children and has widespread long-term consequences for child brides and child grooms. For girls, in addition to mental health issues and a lack of access to education and career opportunities, this includes adverse health effects as a result of early pregnancy (including teenage pregnancy) and childbirth.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 came into force on 1 March 2006 in India. The act forbids child marriages in India. It also protects and assists the victims of child marriages. This act has come a long way in preventing child marriage. But despite this act and all the efforts to prevent child marriage, it is seen that still child marriage is performed in remote areas and some urban areas.

So, there is a need to study the reasons for performing child marriage despite the act and to find some measures to prevent child marriage and make people aware of the act and their rights.

Statement Of Problem:
By doing some research it came to light that negligence of the act and negligence of guardians as well as from society is also somewhere responsible for these marriages. And in some cases, in some remote areas, people are not aware that child marriage is illegal, and sometimes the girl is not aware of the worst consequences of child marriage and is not aware of her legal rights.

Causes of child marriages include poverty, bride price, dowries, cultural traditions, religious and social pressures, regional customs, fear of the child remaining unmarried into adulthood, illiteracy, and the perceived inability of women to work for money, etc. Despite The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, the rate of child marriage is still increasing, causing several problems for the child.

Hypothesis:
The Prohibition of child marriage act came into force in 2006 but despite this act and all the efforts to prevent child marriage, it is seen that still child marriage is performed in remote areas as well as some urban areas also due to some reasons.

Methodology:
The methodology adopted for preparing this paper is based on a qualitative explanation. There is the use of Secondary resources like books, research papers, digital resources, various sites, etc. for data and information collection.

Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929

The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, passed on 28 September 1929, in the Imperial Legislative Council of India, fixed the age of marriage for girls at 14 years and boys at 18 years. In 1949, after India's independence, it was amended to 15 for girls, and in 1978 to 18 for girls and 21 for boys. It is popularly known as the Sarda Act, after its sponsor Harbilas Sharda.

It came into effect six months later on 1 April 1930 and applied to all of British India. It was a result of the social reform movement in India. Despite strong opposition from the British authorities, the legislation was passed by the British Indian Government which had a majority of Indians. However, it lacked implementation from the British Indian government, largely due to the fear of British authorities losing support from their loyal Hindu and Muslim communalist groups.

The Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act, 2006

Origin Of The Act
Child marriages have deep roots in Indian society. Even prior to the colonisation of the State, child marriages prevailed on a large scale in India. However, in 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act was enacted in order to eradicate child marriages in India. The age limit set by the legislation was 14 years for girls and 18 years for boys.

The Act consisted of various loopholes. Firstly, the age limit was very low for both boys and girls. Children could not be expected to have developed a mature mind as well as to attain the physical health for marriage. The consequences of the marriage still subsisted. In addition to this, the punishment under the Act was very trivial. Hence, the legislation was amended in 1978 post-independence, in order to increase the age limit. The age limit was increased to 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys.

The Act still failed to be proven effective in restraining child marriages in India. One of the major reasons was the punishment under the Act. In order to bring reforms under the law, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 was enacted, with increased punishment for the offenders. The relevant provisions of the Act of 2006 have been discussed in further sections.
The object of the Act is to prohibit the solemnization of child marriage and connected and incidental matters.

To ensure that child marriage is eradicated from within the society, the Government of India enacted the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 by replacing the earlier legislation of Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929. This new Act is armed with enabling provisions to prohibit child marriage, protect and provide relief to the victim and enhance punishment for those who abet, promote, or solemnize such marriage.

This Act also calls for the appointment of a Child Marriage Prohibition Officer for whole or a part of a State by the State government.
This Act consists of 21 sections. It extends all over India and renunciants (those who reject the local laws and accept French law) of the Union Territory of Pondicherry.

This act deals with provision for maintenance and residence of a female, Offences, and punishment under this Act, If marriage is null and void, Injunction, Child marriage prohibition officers and their duties, etc.

Punishments under the Law[4]

Child marriage is an offence punishable with hard imprisonment or with fine or both. The courts can issue injunctions prohibiting solemnisation of child marriages. The offences under the Act are cognisable and are non-bailable.

The persons who can be punished under the law includes:
  • Any person who conducts or directs or abets any child marriage
  • A male adult above 18 years who marries a child
  • Any person having charge of the child, including parent or guardian or any member of the organisation, promoting, permitting, participating in a child marriage or failing to prevent it.

     

Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021:

The amendment was introduced in the Lok Sabha to raise the marriageable age for women from 18 to 21 years. In December 2021, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani referred the proposed bill to a parliamentary standing committee for detailed scrutiny. This bill will override all the existing laws after being passed.
The Government of India introduced the bill by considering the data of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and recommendations made by the Jaya Jaitly committee to bring uniformity in the marriageable age of women to par with men.

Effectiveness Of The Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act:

[5]The Act of 2006 has been proven to be a great success. The data comparison from Census 2001 and Census 2011 substantiates the impact of the statute. According to a report by the ICRW, the number of women between the age group 15-19 who have ever been married in the rural areas has reduced from around 29 percent to around 21 percent. The number has been halved in States such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh. On the other hand, the numbers in the urban area have remained stagnant at around 15 percent all over the country along with an increase in States such as Odisha and West Bengal.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, replaced the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, to prohibit the solemnization of child marriages in India. However, child marriages are still prevalent in the country at a significant rate. According to a report of the Australian Aid in collaboration with the International Centre for Research on Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), child marriages are still prevalent at the rate of 50% in India. India is one of the most backward nations in prohibiting child marriages. The condition of rural India is, even more, worse than that of urban India.

To overcome this situation, the legislature has introduced the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Bill seeks to amend the minimum age of marriage of a female child and bring it at par with that of a male child to 21 years. In addition to this, the Bill also seeks to increase the limitation period for the marriage to be declared null and void. The present limitation period under Section 3(3) of the Act is two years after attaining the legal age for marriage, i.e., 21 years for males and 18 years for females. The Bill proposes this period be increased to five years.

The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill states that the amendment is necessary for bringing the status of women at par with that of men, citing Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The Bill, if enacted, shall also bring an amendment to all the personal laws to change the minimum age of marriage to 21 years for both men and women.

The prohibition of the Child Marriage Act, of 2006 was effective and it proved a great success to prevent child marriage. Due to this act, there was a great fall in the number of child marriage cases. However, child marriages are still prevalent in the country at a significant rate. To overcome this situation, the legislature has introduced the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021. Because of this amendment, there was a change in the situation, and child marriages were reduced by a great number. But Still Despite all the efforts in some areas child marriages a performed due to a lack of awareness or negligence or due to their attitude.

Most Brides Are 14 To 16 Years Old:

Most of the respondents said that marriages often take place when girls are aged between 14 and 16 years of age and extremely few girls are married after they turn 18.
The decision to marry the girls is usually made by the girl's father, or other male members of the family, either through seeking marriage alliances or organising the marriages.
Most of the respondents who shared this information were aware of the legal ages of marriage.

Girls who are married very early may continue to live with their parents and be sent to their marital home after a few years.

The study highlights instances where mostly girls who are married off at 12 to 13 years of age continue to reside with their parents. The girl is only sent to her in-laws house in another village after a few years of marriage. However, in some instances the girl is sent to her marital family immediately after marriage if her in-laws insist upon it. This cultural practice is referred to as Gauna in Bikaner.

"If a girl is small (13 and less) then she is not sent off, but if she is 14-15 years old then she is sent off immediately after marriage. It depends on the in-laws; if they want their daughter-in-law at the time of marriage, then she is sent off immediately." (Mother of unmarried girl)

Various Reasons For The Child Marriages:

  1. Gender Inequality
    Gender inequality means that women and girls are treated as second-class citizens, denied their human rights, and valued less because of their sex. Child marriage is one expression of this gender inequality. Patriarchal systems - that is, systems that are controlled by men - that value girls according to their virginity lead to limits on female sexuality and reproductive choices. This can mean controlling how a girl behaves and dresses, where she goes, who she sees, and if, who, and when she marries. It can also criminalize her sexuality and block her access to care and information.
     
  2. Social Norms And Practices
    Social norms are informal rules of behaviour in a group. People follow them to show they are members of the group, because of social pressure or coercion by power holders, or because it's what they've always done. Social norms are often gendered and aim to control women and girls' sexuality and maintain longstanding practices. Child marriage is one such practice. Marriage may be the next step towards her gaining status as a wife and mother. Harmful practices can be linked to each other. In some places, child marriage follows female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), which is considered a rite of passage to womanhood and a way to increase a girl's marriageability.
     
  3. Poverty
    Nearly 40% of girls in the world's poorest countries are married as children, twice the global average. When experiencing acute poverty, families - and sometimes girls themselves - see marriage as a way to reduce family costs and gain financial security. This idea is reinforced by patriarchal norms that devalue and commodify girls. Because girls have less access to education and low social, political, and economic status, they are often economically dependent on men. They may see marriage as their only option.
     
  4. Insecurity
    The prevalence of child marriage increases during crises, with a 20% rise reported in Yemen and South Sudan as a result of conflicts. Crises caused by conflict, generalized violence, natural hazards - including climate change and disease outbreaks - hunger, and poverty worsen the factors that drive child marriage.

Families see child marriage as a way to cope with growing economic hardship. Parents marry their daughters because they think it will protect them from increased or generalized violence, including sexual violence. Child marriage is used as a weapon of war and to hide human trafficking and sexual abuse. So, for a secure life girls marry in their teenage.

Awareness Of The Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act:

After the implementation of The prohibition of marriage act, there was a great reduction in child marriages. But despite this act, there are still many cases of child marriage according to the report and the majority are in remote areas. The main reason for this is the lack of awareness in remote areas.

Some people are not aware of this act, they don't know the demerits of child marriage, and they are not aware of the laws and their rights. As for some underage girls they are not aware of their legal rights, they don't have the idea that child marriage is illegal and they can stand up for their rights by opposing their marriage.

Some parents and guardians are unaware of the demerits of child marriage, they think it is the custom and tradition for the girl child to marry early. Because those are the social norms and practices which are deeply rooted in our society. Awareness is needed for those parents and guardians and all those minor girls about the prohibition of child marriage act and minor girls should know their legal rights. For this, awareness through every medium is necessary, awareness from social platforms, NGOs, and even from lady police officers, and an awareness campaign is necessary.

There is one more obstacle that has come to light by a little research, which is negligence. Negligence from parents and guardians and negligence from society.
Some of them know the act very well still they are negligent as they think no one can arrest them for marrying their own daughter, they think they have the right to marry their minor daughter, and even they have a careless attitude that the law will not harm them.

Even society is sometimes negligent to some extent, they see this illegal and immoral act of child marriage in front of them still they act negligently. They don't try to stop them nor take any action against such acts they just ignore such acts so to some extent society is also responsible for child marriages after the implementation of the act.

Suggestions:
There is a need to prevent child marriages. Here are some suggestions to reduce the rate of such marriages.

First of all, more awareness is needed from every possible medium, whether social platforms or newspapers or books or some physical awareness campaign through NGOs and even sometimes by lady police officers. Minor girls also should know their legal rights and that they have the right to stop their marriage. For this, free seminars and camps should be taken and made compulsory for the girls so they get aware of their rights.

And as for society, society should also take some initiative in preventing such marriages. If someone sees or hears about such marriages, rather than being negligent and careless, society should take some action against these people who promote child marriage.

Together we can reduce child marriages with some more effort.

Conclusion:
Child marriage violates the rights of children and has widespread long-term consequences for child brides and child grooms. For girls, in addition to mental health issues and a lack of access to education and career opportunities, this includes adverse health effects as a result of early pregnancy and childbirth. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 came into force on 1 March 2006 in India. The act forbids child marriages in India. It also protects and assists the victims of child marriages. This act has come a long way in preventing child marriage. But despite this act and all the efforts to prevent child marriage, it is seen that still child marriage is performed in remote areas and some urban areas.

By doing some research it came to light that negligence of the act and negligence of guardians as well as from society is also somewhere responsible for these marriages. And in some cases, in some remote areas, people are not aware that child marriage is illegal, and sometimes the girl is not aware of the worst consequences of child marriage and is not aware of her legal rights. Causes of child marriages include poverty, bride price, dowries, cultural traditions, religious and social pressures, regional customs, fear of the child remaining unmarried into adulthood, illiteracy, and the perceived inability of women to work for money, etc.

So, to reduce the rate of child marriage here are two suggestions from the researcher.

More awareness is needed from every possible medium, free seminars and camps should be taken and made compulsory for the girls so they get aware of their rights, society should also take some initiative in preventing such marriages. If someone sees or hears about such marriages, Despite being negligent and careless, society should take some action against these people who promote child marriage.

By doing some extra efforts we can together reduce the rate of child marriages.

End-Notes:
  1. Article by Ayushi Mahajan, Child Marriage and its Impacts, Consequences, and Effects on the Girl Child, June 2020, https://blog.ipleaders.in.
  2. Nirantar Trust, Early and child marriage in India- A Landscape analysis, https://ajws.org.
  3. Child marriage in India, Plan International, https://plan-international.org.
  4. Prohibition of child marriage Act, India Filings, https://www.indiafilings.com
  5. Article by Arya Mittal, All about the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in India, February 7, 2022, https://blog.ipleaders.in.
Written By: Aishwarya Yogesh Prabhu

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers



Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


LawArticles

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...

Titile

The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of th...

How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi

Titile

How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage

Titile

It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Privatisation Of Government Sector

Titile

Privatization of presidency Sector Although in today's time most of the services provided in ou...

Child Custody And Support

Titile

When parents divorce or separate legally, the custody of their children is often a contentious ...

Whether Caveat Application is legally pe...

Titile

Whether in a criminal proceeding a Caveat Application is legally permissible to be filed as pro...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online


File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly