Sunday, September 13, 2009

TSS: Child Marriages in India

I had written this for Wendy of Musings of a Bookish Kitty as a guest post. I had not posted it on my blog. Today I post this here too.

Child Marriages in India

I thought of talking about this issue, which isn't widely known outside of India. In some parts of India, child marriages are still very common. Children as young as few months are married off by their parents on a few auspicious days of the year. It is more popular in states like Rajasthan and West Bengal, where child marriages are the norm.

In India, the legal age for marriage for girls is 18 and boys, it is 21. But in the rural areas, that is seldom followed. Getting married girls around 13-16 years old is pretty common to boys a few years older. Why is it done? Certain religious beliefs say that a girl ought to be married before she attains the age of puberty. And also it helps in keeping the virginity of the girl intact. Boys too wouldn't stray.

Then there are certain beliefs, which say girls ought not be educated. They are better off married and having babies. Girls are brought up with that mindset and therefore are allured by bright clothes and jewellery. Young girls don't understand the pitfalls of early marriages, and of course motherhood until it is too late. How is a child mother equipped to take care of her child?

It is so rampant that even some political leaders have got married their daughters before the legal age with much pomp and show. The law turns a blind eye and it goes on. Even in the rural areas of Delhi, in our schoools too, I have seen girls being married off at the age of 16-17. And when we try to protest, no one is prepared to listen to us.

Because of child marriages, we also have the social evil of child widows, who are shunned from society and lead a life devoid of colour. (that is another issue, I will take on soon). We also must not forget abandoned child brides. In rural India, once a girl is married off, getting her married for the second time is very difficult.

As long as there is no awareness, and girls are considered commodities, it isn't going to stop anyday soon.

Yet, there are people working towards it and girls are coming out against it. That's a good thing.


serendipity_viv said...

Oh my god. That is just awful. My girls are coming up to ten and I couldn't even think of marrying them off, they are just still children.

Beth F said...

What an important issue to bring to the attention of others. It's hard to believe that this still happens in the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

This is shocking and horrifying. Those poor girls.

Kristen M. said...

Very fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Obviously the laws are just for show -- to make the marriages less transparent to the world's human rights agencies. Even more unfortunate than the young marriages are the views on education ... so sad that this is still happening.