Uprooting an Evil – Ways to Prevent Child Marriage in India
The social evil of child marriage has historical moorings in the Indian context. UNICEF defines child marriage as an informal or formal marriage union between an adult and a child or between two children, typically below 18 years. UN Women opines that child marriage is equivalent to 'forced marriage' as underage children cannot give legally valid consent. In India, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006 states that child marriage implicates a marriage or a marriage that is going to be solemnized to which of the contracting parties is a child. The definition of child includes girls who are below 18 years and boys who are below 21 years. Despite stringent laws that criminalize and prohibit child marriage in contemporary India, the practice continues with little to no hindrance. As per statistics, one out of three adolescent girls (age group of 15 to 19) is married, and every second married adolescent girl has given birth to a child. It becomes crucial to find ways to prevent child marriage in the country.