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No more Child Marriage Headlines! Please?

  • JWB Post
  •  June 17, 2015

 

The day before yesterday, I was relishing the pleasure of reading the newspaper and sipping coffee, on a strangely pleasant Monday morning, when I came across this rather shocking headline.

“Married at 2, now widowed at 13 by Tonk tragedy”

The headline had my undivided attention at once. I read on to comprehend the matter of the fact. And to be honest, I was disturbed. So I flipped onto the next page to distract myself, but hear what I find next!

“16-year old gets her marriage annulled in Udaipur”

That was it. I felt compelled to write about the infamous issue of child marriage. It is immensely saddening to know, that even in this era of modernism and development, plenty of little humans (and I mean that literally) are caught up in the claws of this vile social practice.

The judicial system of our country doesn’t approve of child marriages, which is great! But, guess what? They are still happening! Particularly in the suburbs and rural regions. So what do we do? Simply sip coffee and read about them in the dailies, or get ourselves on the move to extend help?

This article is for all those who choose to act on the latter. There are people out there, no wait! Correction. There are married minors out there who are unhappy in their nuptials, but aren’t aware of what they could possibly do. They have compromised with their fates, and are maybe struggling with the matrimonial ties, which sometimes take the form of harassment, as was the case in the second headline.

One way out is to opt for Annulment.

Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place.” As quoted from Wikipedia.

It differs from divorce as divorce is the ending of a valid marriage between a man and a woman returning both parties to single status with the ability to remarry.

A person can apply for annulment by filing a petition in the Family Courts, or by getting in touch with a Family Counselling Centre. It is easily granted, if the bride and/or groom were minors when they got married. Annulment is not just a legal process. I would say it entails huge societal and emotional aspects. Many a times, the married minors succumb under such pressures. What is needed is to support them throughout the process, right from the beginning till the end.

Other proactive ways to help are:

  • Educating and empowering girls
  • Supporting young people to become activists for change
  • Mobilizing and educating communities
  • Bringing men and traditional leaders on board
  • Enacting and enforcing laws that set a legal minimum age for marriage
  • Introducing economic incentives
  • Raising awareness in the media

Matrimony is undoubtedly one of the best things in life… but only when it happens at the right age. What do you think?

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