Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination (Topic: COVID-19 has led to Child Marriage)

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Topic: COVID-19 has led to Child Marriage

COVID-19 has led to Child Marriage

Why in News?

  • The Global Girlhood Report 2020 says that at least half-a-million girls are now at risk of being victims of forced child marriages as this year comes to an end. Up to 2.5 million girls may be married early due to the pandemic over the next five years, says a Save the Children report.
  • United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) State of World Population Report, 2020, observed that child marriage has been shown to increase during humanitarian crises caused by natural disasters or conflicts.

Deepening Crisis

  • An estimated 1.5 million underage girls in India and 12 million underage girls worldwide get married each year, according to the United Nations, which defines child marriage as "both formal marriages and informal unions in which a girl or boy lives with a partner as if married before the age of 18."
  • South Asia is home to the largest number of child brides, says UNICEF. Of 650 million women and girls in the world who were married before their 18th birthday, 285 million or more than 40% are in South Asia.
  • UNFPA says coronavirus restrictions may delay interventions against child marriage and cause a long-lasting economic downturn that will push more families into poverty, which is a key driver of child marriage.

Provisions against Child Marriage

  • The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929: Also known as Sarda Act, was a law enacted to restrain the practices of Child Marriage. In the case of Sushila Gothala vs. State of Rajasthan the court stated that the minimum required age for marriage is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys.
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006: Marriageable age for a male is prescribed as 21 years and that of a female is 18 years. A decree of nullity can be obtained by a girl who has entered into a child marriage within 2 years of attaining the age of 18 years.
  • Child Marriage is prohibited in India as per the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

Law Commission of India, 205 Report on Child Marriage, 2008

  • The child marriage below 18 for both girls and boys should be prohibited.
  • The marriage below the age of 16 be made void and while those between 16 and 18 be made voidable.
  • The provision relating to maintenance and custody should apply to both void and voidable marriages.
  • Registration of marriage is made compulsory.

Social Challenges

  • Child marriage brings with it the prospect of early pregnancy.
  • At a time when access to reproductive and sexual health services are not easily available, the life of the girl and her unborn child are at much greater risk.
  • One reason, cited by parents, in several surveys is that marriage is way of ensuring the girl child’s safety at a time when many young men are out of jobs and seen as posing a danger to young girls. There have been many instances, according to NGOs, of young men harassing young girls in several places, a reason why marriage is seen as a safety net.
  • The pandemic has led to increased reports of gender-based violence around the world, with an estimated one in 10 girls having experienced rape or sexual violence
  • The UN expects an additional two million cases of female genital mutilation to take place over the next 10 years because of the pandemic