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A Modern Version of Child Marriage

A Modern Version of Child Marriage

By Kanika Wadhwani  

“Education is not the learning of facts,

But training of mind to think”[1]

Marriage is a communally or ritually acknowledged fusion linking spouses that institutes rights and obligations between those spouses, as well as between them and resulting biological children and affinity. This bond or fusion requires a lot of maturity which is not expected by a child to exhibit such kind of adulthood.

Even our lawmakers realized the same in The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 wherein certain conditions are set down in the section 5 of the same act wherein the sub-clause III mentions that the bridegroom has completed the age of eighteen years and the bride the age of fifteen years at the time of marriage.

Child Marriage is the approved (or informal) union of a human being under the age of eighteen years, predominantly the marriage of a juvenile girl to an elderly boy or man. There are about 700 million females  throughout the world today who were married as girls; a third of them were married prior to their fifteenth birthdays.

According to Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 “Child Marriage” means a marriage to which either of the contracting parties is a child[2]

In India Child marriage, known as ‘Bal Vivaha’, is supposed to have initiated during the medieval ages of India. Later child marriage became a ubiquitous cultural exercise with various causes to rationalize it, and many marriages were executed while the girl was still an infant.

After freedom, the feudalistic temper of the Indian society coupled with caste system gave a considerable magnification to incidences of child marriage, notably in the rural areas

Unicef clarifies child marriage as marriage before 18 years of age and contemplates this implementation as an infringement of human rights. The injurious outcomes of child marriage are segregation from family and friends, curbing the child’s associations with the community and peers, inadequacy of opportunities for education. Girl children frequently face circumstances of bonded labor, enslavement, commercial sexual exploitation and violence as a result of child marriage.

Child Marriage is one of the immoral acts which could be done against a human being as every act has a hidden reason behind its occurrence in the same way this sinful act has some of the basic principles such as;

Poverty: Poor ancestries trade their children into marriage either to settle debts or to make some money and abscond the cycle of poverty. Child marriage encourages poverty, however, as it ensures that girls who marry young will not be properly educated or take part in the workforce.

"Protecting" the girl's sexuality: In certain cultures, marrying a girl young presumes that the girl's sexuality, therefore the girl's family's honor will be "protected" by ensuring that the girl marries as a virgin. The imposition of family honor on a girl's individuality, in essence, robbing the girl of her honor and dignity, undermines the credibility of family honor and instead underscores the presumed protection's actual aim: to control the girl.

Gender discrimination: Child marriage is a product of cultures that devalue women and girls and discriminate against them. "The discrimination," according to a UNICEF report on "Child Marriage and the Law," "often manifests itself in the form of domestic violence, marital rape, and deprivation of food, lack of access to information, education, healthcare, and general impediments to mobility."

Trafficking: Poor families are tempted to sell their girls not just into marriage, but into prostitution, as the transaction enables large sums of money to change hands.[3]

This does not means that only females suffer the ill-effects of such kind of union but also, males bear the some amount of the sinful effects of this kind of marriage. But, most of the prominent effects are on the young bride which may be from their well being, schooling and social development panorama. These upshots last well beyond adolescence. One of the most ordinary causes of death for girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries was pregnancy and childbirth.

UNICEF thinks that Child Marriage breaches certain Human Rights of an individual whether it be a baby groom or baby bride, these are;

  • The right to an education.

  • The right to be protected from physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, including sexual abuse, rape, and sexual exploitation.

  • The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.

  • The right to rest and leisure, and to participate freely in cultural life.

  • The right to not be separated from parents against the child's will.

  • The right to protection against all forms of exploitation affecting any aspect of the child’s welfare.

  • The right to eventual employment.[4]


This could be well illustrated through the following case study;

The 2006 Nepal Report on Child Marriage includes the following testimony from a child bride:

"I was married to a nine-year-old boy when I was three. At that point of time, I was unaware of marriages. I don't even remember my marriage event. I just remember that as I was too young and was unable to walk and they had to carry me and bring me over to their place. Getting married at an early age, I was destined to suffer a lot of hardships. I had to carry water in a small clay-pot in the mornings. I had to sweep and swap the floor every day.

"Those were the days when I wanted to eat good food and wear pretty clothes. I used to feel very hungry, but I had to be satisfied with the amount of food that I was provided. I never got to eat enough. I sometimes secretly ate corns, soybeans, etc that used to grow in the field. And if I was caught eating, my in-laws and husband would beat me up accusing me of stealing from the field and eating. Sometimes the villagers used to give me food and if my husband and in-laws found out, they used to beat me up accusing me of stealing food from the house. They used to give me one black blouse and a cotton sari torn into two pieces. I had to wear these for two years.

"Never did I get other accessories like petticoats, belts etc. When my saris got torn, I used to patch them up and continue wearing them. My husband married three times after me. At present, he lives with his youngest wife. Since I married at an early age, early child-delivery was inevitable. As a result, I now have severe back problems. I used to weep a lot and consequently, I faced problems with my eyes and had to undergo an eye operation. I often think that if I had the power to think like I do now, I would never go to that house.

"I also wish I had not given birth to any children. Retrospective sufferings make me wish not to see my husband again. Nevertheless, I do not want him to die because I don't want to lose my marital status."[5]

After the LPG[6] policies initiated in India, massive change in the whole country was perceived people started knowing the significance of education, they started considering males and females at an equal level not everyone has diverted the thoughts but a huge amount of them have changed. Earlier, child marriages were very often but in the previous decade it was discovered that these are rarely in operation. This is because of the quality of education provided to people, the initiatives taken by the authorities, various acts passed by them in order to restrict such kind of inhuman behavior which infringe individual’s human rights such as Child Marriage Act,2006 which prohibits such marriages and provides adequate penalties and punishments to the offenders. Government has also launched certain schemes which ensure the education, the marriage of the girl child lessening the burden of the parents so that they do not think of getting her marry at the onset of puberty or even before that. All in all it could be hypothesized that Child Marriage is an evil eye in our society it only could be abolished by our own efforts and some of which have worked it well.

Modern version of Child marriage means that there is no Child Marriage which basically implies that due to certain factors people have realized that if this kind of union is made between a girl and a boy that union may affect badly to the society also, the individuals. Consequently, no Child Marriage means equal opportunity to boy and a girl by providing them education and various other incentives which would enhance the quality of life, everyone would be treated as a human being and would be able to live a life with dignity[7] as this is Fundamental Right of every citizen. Even this does not infringe the Human rights. Lastly, it could be concluded that in modern version children themselves are taking initiatives and are making their guardians realize the evil effects of such kind of arrangement. And this therefore proves the above lines said by Albert Einstein that education is the training of mind people are being trained by our modernized society how to remove the evil practices from the community.



















[1] Albert Einstein

[2] “child” means a person who, if a male, has not completed twenty-one years of age , and if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age




[6] Liberalization, Privatization, Globalization , 1991

[7] Article 21 of Indian Constitution,1950

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