Child marriage is a violation of child rights.
Child marriage is an age-old curse that is widely prevalent in our country. Even today, in rural areas, child marriage is widely practiced. The most common reasoning behind this practice is that girls are meant to be in their husband’s house, the sooner this is done the better. Parents usually consider the girl child as a burden
There are many reasons for this: children lose their innocence due to child marriage; the education of children, especially girls, suffers as they are not sent to school after marriage; children suffer physically and mentally; girls become mothers at a very young age when their bodies are not prepared for it, thus causing health risks. Early marriage for boys too is a violation of their rights as their education gets affected and they bear the burden of family responsibilities before time.
As per the Child Marriage Prohibition act 2006, a boy under 21 years of age and a girl below 18 years of age is a child. According to this act, getting a child married or participating in it is a punishable crime.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 is the enabling legal framework to prevent and protect child marriage in India. Odisha government has framed Orissa Prohibition of Child Marriage Rules, 2009 to enforce its provisions. The Act envisages a critical role for Child Marriage Prohibition Officers to address the issue of child marriage through legal intervention in the court of law. In the event of the solemnization of any child marriage the concerned Child Marriage Prohibition Officer may be approached and it is he who shall file petition before the District Court for annulling a child marriage, provide for maintenance to the female contracting party until her remarriage, and/ or for the custody and maintenance of the children of the child. On any information about a child marriage about to take place, the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer shall make application to the Judicial Magistrate First Class to issue an order of injunction to prevent the marriage.
In addition to the legal remedies available under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the issue of child marriage can be invoked, redressed and addressed through the child protection mechanisms.
The Child Welfare Committees being created as the statutory institutions under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Act, 2015 is the competent authority to deal the cases relating to care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection. The question that needs to be pondered is whether a child victimized by child marriage does come under the category of ‘Child in Need of Care and Protection’ under the JJ Act, 2015.
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