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Submitted by,
Rishabh singh,
Roll no-201290

I, MrRISHABH with Reg.No201290 Of IIIrd Semester has prepared the
project on child marriage in india
In partial fulfilment of his/her semester course in the subject FAMILY LAW
during the academic year 2013-14 under my supervision and guidance.

Signature of faculty


I owe a great many thanks to a great many people who helped and supported me during the
completion of the project.
My deepest thanks to Lecturer Dr. Sudha kavuri , the Guide of the project for guiding and
correcting various documents of mine with attention and care. He has taken pain to go
through the project and make necessary correction as and when needed.I would also thank my
Institution and my faculty members without whom this project would have been a distant
reality. I also extend my heartfelt thanks to my family and well-wishers.

Child marriage in India has become a major issue in the country like India. Child marriage,
defined as marriage before age 18, devastates the lives of the girls, their families and their
communities. Widespread in many countries, half of the girls are married before they turn 18.
This project deals with the various areas of child marriages which takes place in India. Child
marriage usually refers social phenomena practiced in some societies in India, where a young
child (usually a girl below the age of fifteen) is married to an adult man. A second form of
practice of child marriage is that in which the parents of the two children (the girl and boy)
arrange a future marriage, in this practice, the individuals (the boy & girl) do not meet one
another until they reach the marriageable age, when the wedding ceremony is performed. As
per law, the marriageable age is 21 for males and 18 for females.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY: This project lays emphasis on the problem of child marriage
in India which is an evil to the society. Child marriage in India is practised since ancient
history times. Though government have passed many act and laws to stop child marriages but
still it is practised in some parts of the northern parts of the country like Rajasthan, Gujarat,
etc. but still it is happening. This project has raised the hidden issue of child marriage, main
reason for child marriage, negative consequences of child marriage, and negative
consequences of child marriage, early childhood pregnancy and breakdown of social
institution like family which result in divorce etc.
SCOPE: This paper analyses the various laws in India relating to the prohibition of child
marriage and the laws ruling and controlling such activities. Many suggestions and
recommendations are mentioned in the project to curb the problem of child marriage in India.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: The research methodology used is mainly empirical one and
books and mainly the internet sources would be used as the prime source of information.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(among other charters and conventions) all directly or indirectly forbid the degrading and
mistreatment of girls inherent in child marriage.
Nevertheless, child marriage is common in many parts opf the world, claiming millions of
victims annually--and hundreds of thousands of injuries or death resulting from abuse or
complications from pregnancy and childbirth.
Facts about Child Marriage1

According to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), 100 million
girls will be married before the age of 18 in the coming decade. Most will be in subSaharan Africa and the Asian Subcontinent. In Nigera, for example, 77% of women in
their early 20s were married as children. In Bangladesh, 65% were. Child marriage
also occurs in parts of the Middle East, including Yemen and the rural Maghreb.

In the United States, child marriage is still permissible in some states, with parental or judicial

Globally, according to UNICEF, 36% of women aged 20-24 were married or in a

union, forced or consensual, before theyd reached 18.

An estimated 14 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year. They
are twice more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than women in their 20s.

Girls who marry between the ages of 10 and 14 are five times as likely to die during
pregnancy6 or childbirth as women in their early 20s.

1Pierre Tristam Child Marriage: Facts, Causes and Consequences (november 12 th

05:28 pm ) http://middleeast.about.com/od/humanrightsdemocracy/a/childbrides.htm


Child marriage in India has become a major issue in the country like India. Child marriage,
defined as marriage before age 18, devastates the lives of girls, their families and their
communities. Widespread in many developing countries, child brides number more than 60
million worldwide. In some countries, half of the girls are married before they turn 18.First
of all we should come to know the definition of child or age of child for being restrained from
According to Chid Marriage Prohibition Act, 20062
a) Child means a person who, if a male, has not completed twenty one year of age, and if a
female, has not completed eighteen years of age ;
(b) child marriage means a marriage to which either of the contracting parties is a child ;
(c) contracting party to a marriage means either of the parties whose marriage is (or is about
to be) thereby solemnised and
(d) minor means a person of either sex who is under eighteen years of age.
This harmful traditional practice of child marriage is most common in poor, rural
communities, and its consequences only perpetuate the cycle of poverty. More often than not,
child brides are pulled out of school, depriving them of an education and meaningful work.
They suffer health risks associated with early sexual activity and childbearing, leading to high
rates of maternal and child mortality as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
And they are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and social isolation.
Though child marriage is entrenched in tradition and culture, change is possible. Very often,
girls and their parents want to delay marriage but lack options. Governments and communities
are actively working to discourage the practice by raising awareness of the adverse
consequences for girls, running programs that provide girls with viable alternatives to
2 (November 12th 5:34pm)http://wcd.nic.in/cma2006.pdf

marriage, and demanding more effective enforcement of existing laws that condemn child
marriage. With the right mix of effective programs, policies and political will, millions of girls
will have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.


Percentage of girls getting married before the age of eighteen in different states is alarming
Madhya Pradesh 73%
Rajasthan 68%
UP - 64%
Andhra Pradesh 71%
Bihar 67%
According to UNICEFs State of the Worlds Children-2009 report, 47% of India's women
aged 20-24 were married before the legal age of 18, with 56% in rural area.
As per the UNICEF (State of the Worlds Children-2009) report 40% of the world's child
marriages occur in India.3
Child marriage has many causes: cultural, social, economic and religious. In many cases, a
mixture of these causes results in the imprisonment of children in marriages without their

3Rakesh Mishra, essay on stop child marriages(November 11,3:05pm)

4 Abhinav Tiwari, Essay on Child Marriage in India(November 11,4:02 pm)

Poverty: Poor families sell their children into marriage either to settle debts or to make some
money and escape the cycle of poverty. Child marriage fosters poverty, however, as it ensures
that girls who marry young will not be properly educated or take part in the workforce.
Protecting the girl's sexuality: In certain cultures, marrying a girl young presumes that the
girl's sexuality, therefore the girl's family's honour, will be protected but ensuring that the
girl marries as a virgin. The imposition of family honour on a girls individuality, in essence
robbing the girl of her honour and dignity, undermines the credibility of family honour and
instead underscores the presumed protection's actual aim: to control the girl.
Gender discrimination: Child marriage is a product of cultures that devalue women and girls
and discriminate against them. The discrimination, according to a UNICEF report on Child
Marriage and the Law, often manifests itself in the form of domestic violence, marital rape,
and deprivation of food, lack of access to information, education, healthcare, and general
impediments to mobility.
Inadequate laws: in many countries such as in India there are laws against child marriage but
they are not enforced properly.
Trafficking: Poor families are tempted to sell their girls not just into marriage, but into
prostitution, as the transaction enables large sums of money to change hands. This thing is
very common in poor village people especially of India.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is designed to guarantee certain individual rights-which are abused by early marriage. Rights undermined or lost by children forced to marry
early are:5

The right to an education.

The right to be protected from physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, including
sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation.

5 Monisha Agarwal, Short Essay on Child Marriage(November 12 th , 6:00pm),


The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.

The right to rest and leisure, and to participate freely in cultural life.

The right to not be separated from parents against the child's will.

The right to protection against all forms of exploitation affecting any aspect of the
childs welfare.

The right to eventual employment.

1. Cases of child marriage has been seen critically high in states like Rajasthan, Uttar
Pradesh and Haryana.
2. Demographically and Health surveys indicate that about 38% women aged 20-24 years of
age in 50 least developed countries were married below 18 years of age.
3. Married girls are many times more likely to have had unprotected sexual relations than
sexually active unmarried
4. Laws governing Child marriage area) Convention on the Rights of Child
b) Convention on the elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against women
5. Under the Prohibition of Child Marriages Act, whoever performs, conducts, directs or abets
any child marriage is punishable with rigorous imprisonment up to two years and fine which
may extend to one lakh rupees.
The Act says that child marriage can be declared illegal only at the option of contracting party
being a child.

6. The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs is making progress in increasing women's
education and employment opportunities. This, combined with specific education about child
marriage and cooperation with religious leaders, is hoped to decrease child marriage.6
The new Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (hereafter PCMA) brings about far reaching
changes in the law as under: Section 3 of this Act states that child marriages shall be voidable at the option of the
contracting party who was a child at the time of the marriage. It allows for a petition to be
filed declaring the marriage void within 2 years of the child attaining majority. However,
since a girl is supposed to attain majority at the age of 18 and a boy at the age of 21, the girl
can file a petition till she becomes 20 years of age and a boy till he becomes 23 years of age.
The Act also allows for maintenance and residence for the girl till her remarriage from the
male contracting party or his parents.
It further allows for appropriate orders for custody for any child born from the marriage.
All the punishments for contracting a child marriage have been enhanced. The punishment
for a male over 18 years of age has been enhanced to rigorous imprisonment of up to 2 years
or with a fine up to Rs. 1 lakh or both.
A similar punishment is prescribed for anyone who performs, conducts, directs or abets any
child marriage.
The same punishment is also prescribed for anyone who solemnizes a child marriage
including by promoting such a marriage, permitting it to be solemnized or negligently failing
to prevent the marriage. No woman can however be punished with imprisonment. The Act
also makes all offences cognizable and non-bailable.

6Lig reporter, child marriage laws in India(November 12 th 06:57pm)


The Act further allows for injunctions to prohibit child marriages including ex parte interim
injunctions. It states that any child marriage solemnized in contravention of an injunction
order will be void.7
The Rukhmabai case in Maharashtra and Phulmonee case in Bengal as they are popularly
known raised significant questions about the age and issue of consent in Hindu marriage.
Both the cases marked the tension between the Hindu orthodoxy on one hand that upheld
child marriage and perceived any opposition to it as an affront to tradition and social
reformers opposing such religious bigotry on the other hand. For the latter such blind
adherence to social norms meant the continuation of harmful practices in the name of
tradition and therefore necessitated immediate challenge of such socially sanctioned practices
including child marriage. While the debate on child marriage is often understood as a
tradition-modernity dichotomy, it is also important to bring to the fore the struggle by women
themselves in these cases to challenge patriarchal values and practices, albeit in their limited


The case of Rukhmabai dates back to 1884 when twenty two year old Rukhmabai refused to
consummate her marriage solemnized at the age of eleven. Rukhmabai was eleven years
when she was married to Dadaji Bhikaji, a poor cousin of her stepfather Sakharam Arjun. On
reaching puberty few months after her marriage, the expected ritual was that of garbhadhan or
the ritual consummation of the marriage. However, such early consummation was not
encouraged by Sakharam and so Rukhmabai remained at her natal home and continued to
study. Rukhmabais husband was a man of questionable character and within a few years
time, she realized that she did not want to remain in this marriage. After eleven years of the
unconsummated marriage, Dadaji filed a case for restitution of conjugal rights, a British law
incorporated into the colonial legal system by which either of the spouses could demand for
the union with his or her spouse when either party was as living apart without adequate
reason. Rukhmabai steadfastly refused and defied the Privy Councils order to return to her
husband, stating that she preferred courting imprisonment for violating orders than remaining
7 Manish malhotra, child-marriage-in-india-policy (November 10,05:25pm)

in a marriage that she did not want. Her argument that she cannot be compelled to be tied in a
marriage that was conducted at an age when she was incapable of giving consent was an
argument hitherto unheard of and unimaginable. Rukhmabais struggle against indigenous
patriarchal customs was not confined to her personal resistance only. She wrote in the Times
of India under the pseudonym of A Hindu Lady attacking institutions of infant marriage and
forced widowhood. While critics of infant marriage still considered early marriage as
essential to hindu shastric norms suggesting a raised age of 12 years, for Rukhmabai the
minimum age of marriage should be 15 years. In 1891, the age of marriage rose to 12 years
from 10 years. While Rukhmabai had an out of court settlement with Dadaji, the case became
a landmark in colonial India for raising issues of consent and choice of women in marriage.

The Phulmonee case summary

In 1890, eleven year old Phulmonee died of marital rape by her twenty nine year old husband
Hari Maiti. Her mother Radhamonees account of seeing her daughter lying in blood and
succumbing to the injuries of forced intercourse paved the ground for the age of consent
debate. Hindu norms mandated sexual intercourse on men when their child wives attain
puberty and the colonial law only penalized marital rape when then the child wife was under
the age of ten. Since Phulomonee was older, Hari Maiti was not accused of marital rape and
murder and charged for rash acts.However, this case pushed the colonial government to raise
the age of consent for marriage of girls to twelve. More importantly this case raised questions
whether families or communities had the right to inflict pain or suffering on women using the
plea of tradition. Both these cases paved the ground for not only raising the age of marriage
of girls but more importantly confront issues of choice and consent of women in marriage.
These cases in the 19th century were precursors to later discussions and legal interventions on
child marriages in 20th century in India.8
Case: Smt. Parayankandiyal Eravath Kanapravan Kalliani Amma and others Vs.K. Devi and
8 sanhati.com/excerpted/2207/
9 Smt. Parayankandiyal ... vs K. Devi & Ors on 26 April,: 1996 AIR 1963, 1996
SCC (4) 76


1. Old Child Marriage Act, 1929 did not affect the validity of marriage.

2. New Act of 2006 makes it voidable and void in some cases.

3. This being secular piece of legislation applies all the religions

in India and is a very good

step towards enactment of U.C.C.

4. Section 3 of the new Act terms it voidable and is at the option of the party/minor child to

5. Section 12 of the new Act terms it Void when it is done by enticing or taking away of
child from the lawful custody of Parents or Guardian.
The Act lays emphasis on the prohibition of child marriages by providing for the appointment
of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers by the State Governments and gives powers to these
Officers to prevent and prosecute solemnization of child marriages and to create awareness on
the issue. However without the required financial allocations these Officers will probably not
get appointed. The Act gives the District Magistrate powers to stop and prevent solemnization
of mass child marriages by employing appropriate measures and minimum police force apart
from giving him all the powers of the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer.
The marriage of a minor girl often takes place because of the poverty and indebtedness of her
family. Dowry becomes an additional reason, which weighs even more heavily on poorer
families. The general demand for younger brides also creates an incentive for these families to
marry the girl child as early as possible to avoid high dowry payments for older girls.


Young brides face the risk of sexual and reproductive ill health because of their exposure to
early sexual activity and pregnancy. The NFHS-2 had recorded that only 4% of married girls
practiced gauna. It had further been recorded that the period between marriage and gauna had
been reduced to about one year in most cases. The NFHS-3 figures show that the practice has
been further restricted to 0.7% married girls. Complications and mortality are common during
childbirth for young pregnant girls. Girls who come from poor backgrounds and who are often
married at an early age have little or no access to health care services. Risks associated with
young pregnancy and childbearing include an increased risk of premature labour,
complications during delivery, low birth-weight, and a higher chance that the new born will
not survive.
Young mothers under age 15 are five times more likely to die than women in their twenties
due to complications including haemorrhage, sepsis, preeclampsia/ eclampsia and obstructed
labour.16 Maternal mortality amongst adolescent girls is estimated to be two to five times
higher than adult women.
Child marriage most often occurs in poor, rural communities. In many regions, parents
arrange their daughters marriage unbeknownst to the girl. That can mean that one day, she
may be at home playing with her siblings, and the next, she is married off and sent to live in
another village with her husband and his family strangers, essentially. She is pulled out of
school. She is separated from her peers. And once married, she is more likely to be a victim of
domestic violence and suffer health complications associated with early sexual activity and
Under British rule
European scholars observed in the 19th century that Hindu women are naturally chaste and
more virtuous than other women. During the British Raj, many reformers such as Ram
Mohan Roy,Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Jyotirao Phule etc. fought for the upliftment of
women. Peary Charan Sarkar, a former student of Hindu College, Calcutta and a member of
Young Bengal set up the first free school for girls in India in 1847 in Barasat, a suburb of
While this list might suggest that there was no positive British contribution during the Raj era,
that is not entirely so, since missionaries' wives like Martha Mault ne Mead and her daughter
Eliza Caldwell ne Mault are rightly remembered for pioneering the education and training of

girls in south India - a practise that initially met with local resistance, as it flew in the face of
tradition. Raja Rammohan Roys efforts led to the abolition of the Sati practice
under Governor-General William Cavendish-Bentinck in 1829. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's
crusade for the improvement in condition of widows led to the Widow Remarriage Act of
1856. Many women reformers such as Pandita Ramabai also helped the cause of women
Kittur Chennamma, the queen of the princely state Kittur in Karnataka led an armed rebellion
against the British in response to the Doctrine of lapse. Abbakka Rani the queen of coastal
Karnataka led the defence against invading European armies notably the Portuguese in 16th
century. Rani Lakshmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi, led the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the
British. She is now widely considered as a nationalist hero. Begum Hazrat Mahal, the co-ruler
of Awadh, was another ruler who led the revolt of 1857. She refused the deals with the British
and later retreated to Nepal. The Begums of Bhopal were also few of the notable female rulers
during this period. They did not observe purdah and were trained in martial arts.
Chandramukhi Basu, Kadambini Ganguly and Anandi Gopal Joshi were few of the earliest
Indian women to obtain educational degrees.
In 1917, the first women's delegation met the Secretary of State to demand women's political
rights, supported by the Indian National Congress. The All India Women's Education
Conference was held in Pune in 1927. In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed,
stipulating fourteen as the minimum age of marriage for a girl through the efforts
of Mahomed Ali Jinnah. Though Mahatma Gandhi himself married at the age of thirteen, he
later urged people to boycott child marriages and called upon the young men to marry the
child widows.
Women played an important part in India's independence struggle. Some of the famous
freedom fighters include Bhikaji Cama, Dr. Annie Besant, Pritilata Waddedar, Vijayalakshmi
Pandit, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani and Kasturba Gandhi. Other
notable names include Muthulakshmi Reddy, Durgabai Deshmukh etc. The Rani of Jhansi
Regiment of Subhash Chandra Boses Indian National Army consisted entirely of women
including Captain Lakshmi Sahgal. Sarojini Naidu, a poet and a freedom fighter, was the first
Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman
to become the governor of a state in India.



(1) The State Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint for the whole
State or such part thereof as may be specified in that notification, an officer or officers to be
known as the Child Marriage
Prohibition Officer having jurisdiction over the area or areas specified in the notification
(2) The State Government may also request a respectable member of the locality with a record
of social service or an officer of the Gram Panchayat or Municipality or an officer of the
Government or any public sector undertaking or an office bearer of any nongovernmental
organisation to assist the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer and such member, officer or
office bearer, as the case may be, shall be bound to act accordingly.
(3) It shall be the duty of the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer(a) to prevent solemnisation of child marriages by taking such action as he may deem fit
(b) to collect evidence for the effective prosecution of persons contravening the provisions of
this Act;
(c) to advise either individual cases or counsel the residents of the locality generally not to
indulge in promoting, helping, aiding or allowing the solemnisation of child marriages;
(d) to create awareness of the evil which results from child marriages;
(e) to sensitize the community on the issue of child marriages;
(f) to furnish such periodical returns and statistics as the State Government may direct; and
(g) to discharge such other functions and duties as may be assigned to him by the State
(4) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, subject to such
conditions and limitations, invest the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer with such powers of
a police officer as may be specified in the notification and the Child Marriage Prohibition
Officer shall exercise such powers subject to such conditions and limitations, as may be
specified in the notification.
(5) The Child Marriage Prohibition Officer shall have the power to move the Court for an
order under sections 4, 5 and 13 and along with the child under section 3.


Amendment of Act No. 25 of 1955.- In the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, in section 18, for
clause (a), the following clause shall be substituted, namely:- (a) in the case of contravention
of the condition specified in clause (iii) of section 5, with rigorous imprisonment which may
extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.


ACT, 1929
Under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, the scope of penalty for different parties to the child
marriage is:

Punishment to Parent or guardian: In most cases, a child marriage is instigated by

the parents or guardians. The punishment for these parties may extend up to three months
imprisonment. They may be also subjected to a fine. The penalty is valid even if the
parent/guardian has not consented to the marriage, but fails to take adequate measures to
prevent it.

Punishment to the Party who solemnizes child marriage: This implies anyone who
performs or conducts a child marriage ceremony, such as a priest. The penalty in this case is
three months imprisonment and a fine. The party may, however, escape liability if he proves
he was unaware that the bride and bridegroom were minors.

Punishment to the Bridegroom: If the bridegroom above 21 years is marrying a

minor, he may be imprisoned for up to three months, and may have to pay a fine as well.
However, if the bride is below 21, but above 18, the maximum duration of imprisonment is 15


From the scope of penalties in the Child Marriage Restraint Act it is evident that the existing
laws are not strict enough. Considering that the last revision to the act took place over three
decades ago, it is high time that the Government of India pays serious attention to this issue.
The government created the National Plan of Action for Children in 2005, claiming to
eliminate child marriage entirely by 2010. However, weve entered 2010 and the issue
continues to subsist.


Alarmingly, child marriage cases are not only found in the rural regions of the nation, and also
in some developed cities of states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. The
problem of child marriage is not localised it is common and still widespread in many parts of
the developing country. The problem of child marriage is a matter of supreme concern as the
children who are the futures of tomorrow are if burdened with marital responsibilities at very
tender age they are not able to prosper and concentrate on their aim of life. It leads to the
degradation of not only the community but the whole nation as a whole. Laws are there but it
is high time that educated people like we and us should come forward and stop this. Even in
many cases the police officers are invited in such marriages and they could be seen enjoying
in such ceremonies and giving blessings to the newly wed. Its high time if we want the
development of our country as a whole we have to come forward and stop this.


I am in favour of most proposals (though I simply cannot conceive the consequences of the
reduction in age for marriage of boys to 18 years). However one significant fact which arises
upon an evaluation of this Report is its lack of consideration of the Muslim personal laws
wherein the age of marriage of girl is the age when she attains puberty. Since the proposal is
keen to envisage all girls to be married only after they attain 16 and there is no qualification
as to Muslim girls, it would imply that these provisions are applicable across the board to all
girls in India, irrespective of the religion or cultural ethos they come from. This makes this
proposal the first in line with the cherished idea of a Uniform Civil Codewhich forms a
controversial element in the Directive Principles of State Policy under the Constitution of
Though most critiques would jump at the Report for various recommendations it makes (and
on the lighter side, I have already seen various funny caricatures on the age of boys for
marriage reduced to 18 years), its a progressive piece of advice which the Commission has
meted out to the Government and the only item on the agenda which remains to be performed
is when (and if at all) the Government decides to translate these proposals into laws.


Bare Acts:
1. Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,2006
2. Child Marriage Restrain Act,1929

1. www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/report205.pdf
2. www.cis.uchicago.edu/.../081118-Shulman_India-BackgroundReading.pdf
3. www.lawisgreek.com/child-marriage-laws-in-india.com
4. www.social.un.org/index.com
5. www.childlineindia.org.in