Assam’s Mass Arrests Against Child Marriages are too Strong An Action!

0
549
  • The Indian Constitution is the ultimate delineating authority unambiguously describing in detail how to go about running the country on the lines of democratic governance. Each citizen is governed and protected under the fundamental rights as enumerated in various articles of the Constitution. Thus, the Constitution is not only considered supreme in every matter of relevance but also entails the citizens to oblige in adhering to the requirements. As we are aware, the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary’s roles are elucidated explicitly with each entrusted to undertake their respective responsibilities without overstepping on the other’s domain. However, what’s happening in Assam against child marriage will prove to be tricky for all concerned.

PC: freepik

  • Yes, any responsible citizen would be aghast at seeing child marriages being encouraged in this age and time where the emphasis is rightly on girl progenies to not only get adequately educated but also provide gender parity as well. Nonetheless, Assam CM’s campaign against child marriages will continue to remain valid despite the arrest of around 2,500 men since last week. The only legal way to make them voidable that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, provides is a nullity petition in the district court by a contracting party to the marriage who was a child at the time of the marriage. The wives protesting outside police stations are not interested in filing such a petition. Understandably so since the question of livelihood is paramount here.
  • As shown in media interviews, some of them have professed love for their husband, some have children in two, and for many, the arrested husband is the sole breadwinner for the family. Let’s look at how the issue has panned out over the years. Indeed it is through society-wide efforts that India has reduced child marriage. NHFS surveys show that 54% of women aged 20-24 married before age 18 in 1992-93, became 47% in 2005-06, and then 23% by 2019-21. Of course, change is picking up pace. But experts are clear that it is rising education and income that have delivered this change. Herein lies the message, loud and clear. No wonder, this is also why Parliament and Centre haven’t wielded the blunt instrument that is being deployed in Assam today.

PC: freepik

  • Rightly, they have recognized that economic and educational development is very uneven across the country, and that child marriages remain the most common among the deprived populations. States that have gone further include Karnataka, which ten years after Parliament passed PCMA amended it to declare every child marriage void ab initio, but only thenceforth. A survey of the arrested may find that many were knowingly defying PCMA, but many others either didn’t know of it or thought the government was uninterested in enforcing it because that’s what the government’s actions over the past decade and a half indicated to them. Breaking settled families in a way that leaves some of them destitute is just not justified. Protesting women must be heard.