Uphill Battle Against Child Marriage Is Being Won in India, for Now
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: April 29th, 2018
Plainclothes police officers stormed the village of Madhura in Bihar State. They chased men into fields and detained the bride and groom, already covered in turmeric powder to prepare for the ceremony, for further questioning. Speaking to reporters at the police station later, Ms. Kumari, with downcast eyes, made her position clear: I will not marry, sir, she said. I want to study. Indias child marriage rate is one of the highest in the world. But as awareness has spread about the detriments associated with underage marriages ... the prevalence has dropped. Child marriage [in India] is finely threaded with other practices, including the exchange of a dowry from the brides family to the groom, and sometimes with sex trafficking, making it difficult to tackle any one issue without addressing others. Social workers said there are no easy solutions. Bihar, a poor, agrarian state in northern India, has one of the highest rates of underage marriages in the country. In 2005, 69 percent of surveyed women said they married when they were underage. Ten years later, the number fell to 42.5 percent. Last year, the Bihari government ... dispatched social workers to villages and cities across the state, and announced that priests who officiate weddings would be required to sign declarations affirming that both parties are of legal age to marry. The legal age for marriage for Indian women is 18 years old. For men, it is 21. With the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Prevention Act, Indian lawmakers criminalized child marriage.
Note: While India has outlawed child marriage as a country, twenty-seven US States set no minimum age for marriage.