Child Marriage in India

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Child Marriage in India :

Child Marriage in India Law and the Protocol for Action A presentation by Jharkhand State Commission for Women

What is a child marriage?:

What is a child marriage? A marriage to which either of the contracting party is a child. S2 (b) of The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 Child or minor under this law is defined as 18 years in the case of girls and 21 years in the case of boys. S2 (b) of The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

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Facts & Figures: More than half of the women in India are married before the legal minimum age of 18. By contrast, men in the same age group get married at a median age of 23.4 years. Sixteen percent of men aged 20-49 are married by age 18 and 28 percent by age 20. ( Source: Summary of Findings, NFHS-3)

Reasons Why Child Marriages Continue :

Reasons Why Child Marriages Continue Girl Child viewed upon as liability largely due to high socio-economic & cultural costs attached to marriage leading to early marriage. Reasons: Demand for younger Bride reduces marriage costs vis a vis high dowry for older girls Dependency syndrome - Parents see marriage as a way to secure the girl’s future socially and economically. Illiteracy, Lack of awareness and systemic inactiveness of the administration in proper implementation of laws contributes towards the evil of Child Marriage going unchecked.

Consequences of Child Marriage :

Consequences of Child Marriage Human Rights Violation: A violation of Child Rights to a free life devoid of exploitation, full care and protection. Denial of basic right to a respectful and decent childhood their basic rights to good health, nutrition, education, and freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation. Subjection to Physical, mental and emotional trauma and also life threatening circumstances to which the child is not prepared what awaits hi, Marriage entails family and societal responsibilities and also acts as licence though illegal in context of child marriage to engage in sexual activity amounting to child sexual abuse and rape. Exposure to high risk diseases HIV/AIDS & STI; poor health and quality of life

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Contd. High incidence of MMR and IMR Social Isolation Lack of economic opportunities due to lack of education Endless and vicious cycle of domestic violence and abuse In the pretext of marriage, entailing Human trafficking

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 :

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,2006 (PCMA) was enacted repealing the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 in order to prohibit child marriages rather than only restraining them. PCMA has been enforced with effect from 1st November, 2007. It makes child marriage an offence and prescribes punishment for those conducting/ abetting/ promoting/permitting/ solemnizing child marriages. It provides powers to the State Government to appoint Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPO) and makes child marriages voidable by giving choice to the children in the

Whom Does it Apply to? :

Whom Does it Apply to? It applies to all citizens of India irrespective of religion, without and beyond India. It however, does not apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It excludes the Renoncants of the Union Territory of Pondicherry from its application. For them the French Civil Laws are applicable as they are treated as citizens of France. Implementation Status The Ministry reviewed the implementation of the Act in the Conference of State Ministers / State Secretaries of Women and Child Development held on 16 -17th June, 2010. All States / UTs were again requested to frame Rules under the Act and to appoint Child Marriage Prohibition Officers. So far, 18 States/UTs have framed Rules under the Act

Provisions under Law::

Provisions under Law: The basic premise of the law is: To make a child go through a marriage is an offence. Child or minor is a person up to 18 years in the case of girls and 21 years in the case of boys7.

The provisions of this law can be classified into three broad categories: :

The provisions of this law can be classified into three broad categories: A. Prevention B. Protection C. Prosecution of Offenders

A. Prevention:

A. Prevention More specifically, under the law: Child marriages is a cognizable and non-bailable offence. Appointment Of Child Protection Officers. The Courts have the power to issue injunction for prohibiting child marriages from taking place. Child marriages will be declared null and void if the injunction prohibiting a child marriage from taking place is violated/ contravened or, if the child is taken away from their lawful guardian by enticement, force or use of deceitful means or, is sold or trafficked for the purpose of marriage. The law lays down penal provisions for those who solemnize child marriages. The CMPO and District Collector are responsible for sensitisation and awareness creation in the community.

B. Protection:

B. Protection 1. The law makes child marriages voidable by giving choice to the children in the marriage to seek annulment of marriage. 2. It provides for maintenance and residence of the female contracting party. 3. It gives a legal status to all children born from child marriages and makes provisions for their custody and maintenance. 4. Support and aid including medical aid, legal aid, counselling and rehabilitation support to children once they are rescued. 5. The Child Marriage Prohibition Officer has been empowered: • to provide necessary aid to victims of child marriage • to provide legal aid • to produce children in need of care and protection before the Child Welfare Committee or a First Class Judicial Magistrate, where there is no Child Welfare Committee.

C. Prosecution of Offenders:

C. Prosecution of Offenders The law provides for punishment for an adult male above 18 years of age marrying a child. 2. It also lays down punishment for those performing / conducting / abetting a child marriage. 3. It prescribes punishment for promoting or permitting solemnization of child marriage, including for parents, guardians or any other person/association/organisation. 4. The law clearly states that women offenders in any of the above categories cannot be punished with imprisonment. However, they can be penalised by way of imposition of a fine.

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Mechanisms under the law The authorities identified : Child Marriage Prohibition Officer 2. District Magistrate 3. First Class Judicial Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate 4. Police 5. Family Courts 6. Any person(s) called upon by the State Government to assist the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer.

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Where to File a Complaint? Police Station :The police must make a DD entry (an entry in the Daily Diary Register maintained at every police station) and register an FIR (First Information Report) based on such complaint. District Magistrate A complaint can also be filed with a Judicial Magistrate of First Class or a Metropolitan Magistrate. Child Welfare Committee or a member of the Child Welfare Committee set up under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 as amended in 2006 Child Line (A complaint can be filed by any person, including those who report an incidence of child marriage. Such persons may include)

Role of Stakeholders that have been Identified in the Law is as Follows: :

Role of Stakeholders that have been Identified in the Law is as Follows: Child Marriage Prohibition Officer: Implementation & Timely Intervention at district level Police: Registering of FIR; Report the matter to CMPO. Magistrate for Injunction, provide support in intervention and take actions under procedures laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: District Magistrate: As the prohibition officer with regard to section 13 (4) i.e. when mass child marriages are taking place & responsible for enforcing an injunction under section 13. Panchayat Members: Play leading role in preventing child marriages, protecting the victims as well as supporting the concerned authorities in evidence building so as to prosecution of the offenders. Teachers: liable under section 16 to provide assistance to the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer to prevent child marriages. Inform the nearest police station as soon Visit the nearest Judicial or Executive Magistrate to record a complaint Make a phone call or write to the nearest police station/SP (Superintendent of Police)/Child Line/Child Welfare Committee/ the Department of Women and Child Development or the Social Welfare Department in the state, etc

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