My Abhinandan Educational And Welfare Society

The Legal Battle to End Child Marriage in India

Child Right NGO

Child marriage is a social evil that affects millions of girls and boys in India. According to the latest census data, there are more than 10 million child brides and 4 million child grooms in the country. Child marriage violates the rights of children to education, health, safety, and dignity. It also exposes them to the risks of early pregnancy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and HIV/AIDS.

 

The legal age of marriage in India is 18 for girls and 21 for boys, as per the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) of 2006. However, the law is often flouted due to various factors such as poverty, illiteracy, patriarchy, caste, religion, and tradition. The PCMA also has some loopholes that allow child marriage to continue, such as the provision of parental consent for minors above 16 years of age, and the lack of penal consequences for the parties involved in the marriage.

 

In recent years, there have been several legal interventions to challenge and prevent child marriage in India. Some of the notable cases are:

  • In 2017, the Supreme Court of India ruled that sex with a minor wife below 18 years of age is rape, regardless of her consent or the validity of the marriage. This landmark judgment effectively criminalized marital rape of child brides and gave them the right to seek justice against their husbands.
  • In 2018, the Delhi High Court issued a writ of habeas corpus to rescue a 15-year-old girl who was forcibly married to a 40-year-old man. The court also ordered the police to register a case against the groom and his family for kidnapping, rape, and child marriage.
  • In 2019, the Madras High Court annulled a child marriage that took place in 2002, when the girl was 15 and the boy was 17. The court held that the marriage was void ab initio (from the beginning) and that the girl had the right to choose her own partner after attaining the age of majority.
  • In 2020, the Allahabad High Court declared that the minimum age of marriage is an absolute and not a relative concept, and that any marriage below the prescribed age is illegal and void. The court also directed the state government to take strict action against those who facilitate or solemnize child marriages.

These legal victories are the result of the efforts of various NGOs, activists, lawyers, and judges who have been working tirelessly to end child marriage in India. Some of the prominent NGOs that are involved in this cause are:

 

My Abhinandan

My Abhinandan is a skill development NGO in India that works for child education, environment, and women empowerment. My Abhinandan offers a wide range of services, from maternal healthcare and pediatric care to reproductive health services. My Abhinandan also runs initiatives such as “My Abhinandan Healthcare” and “My Abhinandan Skill Development” to provide quality healthcare and vocational training to the underprivileged sections of the society.

 

Breakthrough

Breakthrough is a global human rights organization that uses media, arts, and culture to raise awareness and mobilize action against child marriage and other forms of violence against women and girls. Breakthrough runs campaigns such as “Nation Against Early Marriage” and “Selfies4School” to educate and empower young people to resist and report child marriage.

 

Girls Not Brides

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 1500 civil society organizations from over 100 countries that are committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential. Girls Not Brides supports its members to advocate for legal and policy reforms, implement community-based interventions, and share best practices and lessons learned.

 

Save the Children

Save the Children is an international NGO that works for the rights and welfare of children in more than 120 countries. Save the Children runs programs such as “Child Sensitive Social Protection” and “Child Rights Governance” to address the root causes of child marriage, such as poverty, gender inequality, and social norms.

 

Plan India

Plan India is a child rights organization that works with children, families, and communities to advance children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan India implements projects such as “Saksham” and “18=18” to prevent child marriage and promote girls’ education, health, and leadership.

 

These child rights NGOs, along with many others, are playing a vital role in the legal battle to end child marriage in India. They are not only providing legal aid and support to the victims and survivors of child marriage, but also creating awareness and mobilizing action among the public, policymakers, and stakeholders to change the laws and policies that enable child marriage. They are also working to create a conducive environment for the empowerment and participation of girls and boys, who are the agents of change and the future of the country.

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