Physical development, health, mental and emotional well-being, and educational possibilities are all negatively impacted by child marriage, which is against children’s rights. To prevent boys and girls from getting married before they are ready, laws that set a minimum age for marriage are crucial. In India, girls must be at least 18 years old to get married, while boys must be at least 21. A fine, up to two years in prison, or both may be imposed as punishment for the crime of child marriage. This offense is not cognizable nor subject to bail. A child bride may also be protected by the Juvenile Justice Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
According to The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, in India, a child is a person who has not completed the age of 18, or 21. A further stipulation of this law is that any marriage performed between minors is void and of no legal effect. The law also specifies punishments for a number of infractions, such as approving or performing child weddings between minors and marrying kids to adults. Despite this, child marriage is still widely prevalent in this nation. The states with the highest rates of child marriage are also those with the densest populations. Adolescent brides in India are frequently fertile, which has major implications for population control and leads to numerous unplanned pregnancies.
A child, in accordance with the act, is defined as a male or female who has not reached the age of twenty-one or eighteen. Any two people who are either one or both minors can enter into a child marriage. Any child marriage that occurred before or after this act may be declared invalid by the child who was the bride or groom at the time of the union. But the marriage must be annulled before the former spouse has finished their second year of adulthood.
The husband may be ordered by the court to pay for the girl’s maintenance until she finds a new husband if he is the one seeking the dissolution of the marriage. The district court will assess how much upkeep is required. If the marriage produced any children, the court will decide, in the child’s best interest, who the child will live with, where they will reside, and how often they will visit. Additionally, the court may rule that one of the parties must provide child support. Every child conceived prior to the dissolution of the marriage is considered a legitimate child.
The following actions should be taken by individuals to stop child marriage:
Expand educational opportunities: One of the most effective ways to stop child marriage in India is through education. Girls who receive an education, particularly those who live in rural or distant locations, are better able to understand their rights and develop a feeling of self-worth. They could be better equipped to withstand the difficulties of child marriage as a result.
Encourage economic empowerment: Addressing child marriage can also be accomplished by educating and empowering women economically. Women can become financially independent and take charge of their own life when they have access to opportunities to earn money.
Conveying the dangers of child marriage: Conveying the dangers of child marriage is a crucial first step in its prevention. Teachers, healthcare professionals, community and religious leaders, and other significant persons might be enlisted to help raise awareness of the problem.
Strengthen the legal system: Addressing child marriage in India also requires strengthening the legal system. Laws prohibiting child marriage should be scrupulously upheld, and those who violate them should face just penalties.
Support current programs: There are numerous programs already in place to stop child marriage in India. These programs should be encouraged and supported because they have been successful in lowering the rate of child abuse.