In India, child marriage is illegal and penalised. According to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) of 2006, the legal age of marriage in India is 18 for women and 21 for men. Marriages between a bride or groom who is underage are not allowed to be solemnised under the law.
Anyone engaged in executing, aiding, or promoting child marriage is subject to penalties under the PCMA. This encompasses both parents or guardians who encourage or coerce their minor children into marriage and those who officiate at weddings. The statute also acknowledges the value of rehabilitation and assistance for child marriage victims.
Depending on the unique facts of each case, different penalties may be imposed for violations of the PCMA. They may involve imprisonment, fines, or both. Additionally, the law provides for the dissolution of child marriages, enabling victims to request for dissolution of their marriages and protection of their rights.
It’s important to note that despite legislative restrictions, child marriage still poses a serious problem in some regions of India because of socio-cultural issues and a lack of knowledge.
There are several reasons why child marriages are so common in India. Among the main causes are poverty, a lack of education, gender disparity, societal standards, and traditional beliefs. Child marriages are viewed in certain societies as a method to safeguard girls from alleged threats, uphold family honour, and provide financial security through dowry customs. The prevalence of child marriages is also influenced by elements including restricted access to education, ignorance of laws and rights, and ineffective enforcement methods. Even if progress has been achieved, ending child marriages in India will take ongoing work on many fronts, including judicial changes, community involvement, education, and awareness campaigns. Collaboration between the government, civil society, and communities must continue if significant change is to be achieved and children’s rights are to be protected.