What is Child marriage?
A child marriage is a term which is generally used when and underage boy or a girl or both of them enter into the commitment of marriage.
How it affects the rural India and development?
This is a very common happening in the stereotypical societies of rural India. There have been cases when even babies or sometimes an unborn child is promised and married.
One of the most probable reasons for it is the stereotype in the rural society and the image of woman being born as a burden. They want to marry her off soon so that they don’t have to worry about dowry and bringing her up.
This also results in less Literacy rate of women and hence less resources. Women are taught to not ho outside and this is the bitter reality of the rural regions. Although this practice still happens in urban areas too but this article mainly focuses on how the development of rural society gets affected.
The Child Marriage Act:
The act may also be called the prohibition of Child marriage Act,2006 and it came into force on 1 November 2007 in India. The contents of the act includes 21 sections and it extends all over India and the Union territories.
The main objective of the act was to save innocent children from getting into a big commitment like marriage and to save their childhood innocence and to make a difference.
Punishments under the Act are:
If an adult man who is above the age of 18 years does child marriage, then he will be punishable with a maximum extended fine of one lakh rupees or a 2-year imprisonment or maybe both.
The act of conducting or performing a child marriage is punishable with 2-year imprisonment or a fine which may extend to 1 lakh rupees or both.
Promoting and permitting of Child marriage and even attending one is punishable with 2 years imprisonment or a fine which may extend to 1 lakh rupees or both.
One of the very important statement of this act is :
The legal age for marriage among female should be 18 and the same among males should be 21 years of age and the act of marrying below this age will make the marriage voidable.
One of the very important cases of this Act is Independent Thought Vs UOI which brought a very big change as The Supreme Court increased the age of consent for sexual intercourse within marriages to 18. Before the ruling sexual conducts of a husband on his wife , where the wife was above 15 years of age did not constitute rape for the purpose of criminal law. The case law instigated the issue that almost all the statues in India suggest that a girl below the age of 18 is a child.
Some of the issues which the case law instigated and were solved later are:
- Whether intercourse with a 15 to 18 year girl would amount to rape or not?
- Whether the section 375 of IPC is discriminatory.
- And just because the girl between the age of 15 to 18 is married does not mean that she can conceive a baby or is mantally and physically capable of having sex.
In the case law it was said that Independent Thought and Child Rights trust argued that the classification between married and unmarried minor girls in punishing sexual violence had no rational nexus to the objectives of the section. It is also contrary to the obligations of the State to protect the right of the child under Article 21 as well as under International Conventions (Supreme Court observers. LINK:https://www.scobserver.in/)