Child Marriage

Inspite of reform movement Child Marriage still takes place illegaly, under the veil of tradition. According to 2010 UNICEF statistics, 47% of the girls in India are married by the age of 18. Child marriage hampers the all round development of the girl child; depriving them of any opportunities of development in their life. It causes irreparable damage and violates a number of basic rights they entitled to by birth, spanning over their entire lifetime. It initiates a chain of violations including right to life and health, right to free and informed consent, right to non-discrimination and equality, right to education, work, and economic autonomy.

Child marriage forces the girl into being sexually active while they are still very young, which leads to early and close spaced pregnancies. This not only has an adverse effect on the girls’ maternal health which has its lifelong consequences, but puts her life itself at risk. A child bride is forced into uninformed and non-consensual sex with no autonomy on their reproductive choices. This is aggravated by non-availability of adolescent friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services such as contraceptives, safe abortion and obstetric care.

Child marriage is illegal under the Prevention of Child Marriage Act’ 2006 (PCMA), and overrides personal laws. Hence marriage of a minor or between two minors is legally void and cannot be legitimised based on any personal laws or cultural norms. In the year 2003, HRLN fought a PIL seeking that the errant government officials, village officials and policemen be held responsible for abetting child marriages, and also sought compensation and other relief for the victims of child marriage. It also demanded for registration of all marriages. The PCM Act of 2006 is the result of that PIL. This particular act is far more powerful than the previous The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 as it puts fiercer punishment on the parties involved, includes rehabilitation of the child and the element of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPOs). Under the Act, each state government shall appoint CMPOs. These CMPOs prevent child marriages, investigate potential cases of child marriage, advise families, create awareness, sensitize the community, furnish periodical statistics, and perform other necessary tasks. This puts greater accountability and sets a mechanism on the state to prevent child marriages.

Child Marriage is engendered in the patriarchal mind set to control the women’s sexuality and the view that girls are an economic burden. Under the veil of child marriage greater crimes of rape, child trafficking and child labour are performed. As the Delhi High Court noted in its’ judgment, “Young married girls are a unique, though often invisible group.  Required to perform heavy amounts of domestic work, under pressure to demonstrate fertility, and responsible for raising children while still children themselves, married girls face constrained decision making and reduced life choices.” The failure of the government to prevent child marriages from happening and taking action against is the failure of government to protect the girls’ human rights and constitutional rights. It is also a failure to recognise the inherent respect and dignity of a girl’s life.

Related Work

Child Marriage

Presentations from the Five-Day Training on Contemporary Developments in the Law Relating to Violence and Discrimination against Women

Access to Contraceptives, Adolescents' Sexual Health and Rights, Child Marriage, Consultations, Education, Issues, Maternal Health, Quality of Care, Safe Abortion, Sterilisation, Update, WORK

You can now access all of the presentations that were made at HRLN's 'Five-Day Training on Contemporary Developments in the Law Relating to Violence and Discrimination against Women', held from the 19th – 23rd June in Goa, India. The presentations feature a huge range of topics that all intersect ....
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HRLN attends the 6th Annual SARJAI Workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal

Access to Contraceptives, Child Marriage, Issues, Safe Abortion, Uncategorized, Update

From May 16-19th 2018, HRLN attended the Centre for Reproductive Rights' 6th Annual South Asia Reproductive Justice and Accountability Initiative Workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal. As an organisation that fervently advocates for reproductive rights in India, HRLN has been attending this workshop since its inception. The workshop was attended by ....
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BJP MLA advocates child marriage of girls to stop ‘love jihad’

Articles, Child Marriage, Issues, Madhya Pradesh, News, States

In a shocking demonstration of regressive politics and a disdain for the autonomy of young girls and their rights, a Madhya Pradesh MLA from the BJP party has spoken in favour of child marriage and denounced the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2016. The full article is enclosed below, ....
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Times of India Interview with HRLN Bihar State Coordinator on Child Marriage

Adolescents' Sexual Health and Rights, Articles, Bihar, Child Marriage, Issues, Media Report, News, States, Update

Times of India, in their special edition New Hope magazine, recently interviewed Advocate and HRLN Bihar State Coordinator Vikash Kumar Pankaj on the issue of child marriage in the state. You can read the full article below.   'Vikash Kumar Pankaj is the state co-ordinator for Human Rights Law Network and president ....
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HRLN publish new book on Child Marriage in India

Child Marriage, Issues, Publication, Publication, Research and Fact Finding, WORK

HRLN has just published its newest book on child marriage in India, the laws surrounding it, and case studies collected through fact findings. You can read the full copy of the publication below. This book is the result of a year of research missions in several states, as well ....
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