Laws for prevention of Child Marriage



We would undoubtedly agree that child marriage is a violation of an array of basic human rights which include the right to education, the right to be protected from physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, including sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation, the right to equality on grounds of sex and age, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the right to marry and found a family and finally the right to eventual employment.
Marriage at a young age affects the health of the individual as well the children born out of the marriage. Besides health of the girl, there are several other critical consequences of child marriage. To deal with this, child marriage was declared illegal in India in 1929; this law is known as the Child marriage Restraint Act, 1929. This was the first legislative initiatives started to prevent the occurrence of harmful socio-cultural / traditional practices in India. This has been amended twice to increase the age of marriage. By 1978, the age at marriage was set at 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys.
Besides the above, several other laws and policies were prepared to address the complicated issue of child marriage which included Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, Dowry Prohibition act, 1961, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDA), Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA), Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act, National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, National Youth Policy and National Plan for Children etc.
As we can see above, Government has taken a number of initiatives to strengthen the laws related to child marriage. But the question is have they been successful to produce the desired change? Well, the data says that 40 percent of girls are married before the legal age of marriage (18 years) in the state of Bihar and West Bengal. The issue of child marriage involves both sexes but it inexplicably affects the girls. There is a need to take a sensitive approach towards this and laws relating to child marriage must be strengthened to eliminate this iniquity from our society.
Furthermore, we would say that laws and policies alone may not be adequate to address this multi-faceted problem of child marriage but they can certainly help to raise awareness in the general population. To conclude, clear and precise laws and policies aided with other interventions will surely play an important role in dealing with the issue of child marriage.