- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act was passed 15 years ago, but it has very little impact – especially among the Muslim community in Northern Kerala where child marriage is more prevalent.
- The states like Assam are trying to tackle the issue progressively with the announcement of incentives to stop child marriages.
- While the so-called conservative party is taking such progressive steps, the government of Rajasthan recently issued an act legalising child marriage.
Kerala, the state where the government boasts the highest literacy every other day, is struggling to stop child marriage. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act was passed 15 years ago, but it has very little impact – especially among the Muslim community in Northern Kerala where child marriage is more prevalent.
As per a report by the state’s Economic and Statistics Department in September, around 5 per cent of the women who delivered babies in 2019 were underage. The Communist government is taking all sorts of steps to ensure that child marriages do not take place and has announced incentives worth thousands of rupees to informants of child marriage.
As per the prohibition act, the offence of conducting a child marriage carries a penal punishment of up to five years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rs 10 lakh.
However, all these strict rules and incentives to informants have failed to curb the menace of child marriage among the Muslim community of the state, and every few months, incidents are reported about the same. It is such a big issue in the state that Wikipedia has dedicated a separate page titled “Child marriage among Muslims in Kerala” on it.
The states like Assam are trying to tackle the issue progressively with the announcement of incentives to stop child marriages. The Assam government announced that every bride in the state will be given Rs. 30,000 by the state, to purchase gold. The government allotted 800 crore rupees in the budget for the Arundhati scheme.
“Assam government has decided in our budget that we will give one tola [10gm] of gold to the bride if a marriage is solemnised and registered. Because, if you register a marriage then there will be a minimum age which is notified as 18 years and 21 years for the bride and bridegroom. So, yesterday we have passed that particular scheme. Now any marriage which will be registered, the bride will get Rs 30,000 from the state government to purchase gold. But, to have benefit from the scheme, your minimum age has to be 18 years and 21 years and you have to matriculate (Class 10 pass),” said Assam Finance minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma.
While the so-called conservative party is taking such progressive steps, the government of Rajasthan recently issued an act legalising child marriage.
A few days ago, Rajasthan Assembly passed the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which amends the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009. Under the bill, information on child marriage must be furnished by their parents or guardians within 30 days of the wedding in a prescribed manner.
According to a Hindustan Times report, the amendment bill permits the government to appoint an additional district marriage registration officer (DMRO) and block marriage registration officer to register marriages. Prior, only the DMRO was authorised to register the marriages in the state. Moreover, under Section 8 of the Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, if the girl’s age at the time of marriage is less than 18 years and the boy’s age is less than 21, then her parents will have to inform the registration officer within 30 days.
Protesting against the amendment bill that allows child marriage, BJP MLA Ashok Lahoti said, “It will be a black day for the assembly if this bill is passed. Does the assembly permit us to unanimously allow child marriages? By a show of hands, we will be permitting child marriages. The bill will write a black chapter in the history of the assembly.”
The Union government led by Prime Minister Modi has taken many progressive steps for the empowerment of women in the last seven years and most recently it was discussing an increase in legal the age of marriage of women to 21 – same as men. The state government of Assam has already announced incentives to stop child marriage. On the other hand, the Communists and Congress party is pushing the nation backwards despite all their progressive tag in the media.