Registration Of Child Marriages: Why Does An Illegal Practice Even Need Documentation?

Why would any parent or guardian come forward to register a child marriage if they know that it could get them in legal trouble? Doesn't it defeat the whole purpose of this bill then?

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Registration Of Child Marriages: The government of Rajasthan passed a new law on September 17, which directed compulsory registration of marriages in the state. According to the opposition, the bill will end up legitimising child marriages- that is illegal, yet being practised among many parts of the country, including Rajasthan. As per the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, a marriage between any bridegroom younger than 21 years of age and a bride who is below the legal age of marriage (18 years) can be registered by their parents or guardians within the 30 days of the ceremony. This has left so many questions about the safety and wellbeing of children and our attitude towards the social evil in modern times.

Rajasthan's Parliamentary Affairs minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal went on to defend the Bill by saying that registration of a marriage doesn't automatically grant it validity, adding that it would give a minor the right to annul a marriage once they are an adult. He further added, "... the Supreme Court has also ruled that there should be compulsory registration of marriages. Hence, the Bill includes child marriages."

Dhariwal also went on to say that action will be taken against those who organise child marriages, even after they register them. Which begets the question- why would any parent or guardian then register a child marriage if they know that it could get them in legal trouble? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of both the Bill and The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006?

Besides, child marriage is an illegal, evil practice that puts numerous young girls in harm's way. The opportunity to attain education, employment is snatched away from them and they are instead thrown into the rut of domestic chores and motherhood, completely unprepared for these duties. Young boys too are burdened with the responsibility to care for another individual which affects all the decisions they take in their life. Child marriages are not fair to any gender. Above all it is an illegal practice in our country, so why must it be documented at all?

Why isn't the focus on eradicating child marriages, completely discouraging parents and society from partaking in it? Has the Rajasthan administration given up on its people? Does it feel the people of this state are beyond redemption?

Yes, child marriages are a cruel reality that spoils the lives of numerous young children, but the solution barely lies in telling people to register these marriages and then be ready to face legal consequences, because we know how that will end. The solution lies in faster administrative action to prevent child marriages, campaigns to discourage this practice in the long run and closing all possible ways for a person to find a way to legitimise this illegal union of two unprepared immature and helpless young people.

Views expressed are the author's own.


Suggested Reading:

She Stopped Her Child Marriage at 16. Now She Is Creating Awareness On Its Ill-Effects

For Me, Being A Child Marriage Survivor Is A Source Of Strength

13-Year-Old Who Stopped A Child Marriage In Her Family To Be Felicitated


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