Indian state faces backlash over law ‘encouraging child marriages’

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A new state law on the registration of marriages has sparked a debate among parliamentarians and citizens in western India’s Rajasthan.

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According to the new law, “if the bride is below 18 years and the groom is less than 21 years old”, their parents will have to register the marriage with the state authorities within 30 days.

The Rajasthan Compulsory Marriage Registration (Amendment) Bill, which was approved by MPs in the Rajasthan Assembly on Friday, amended the previous law, which had set the age of 21 for both men and women.


While the Indian National Congress Party-led state government has said that the change is only a technical update, opposition members have alleged that it is a controversial amendment that allows child marriage.

The current minimum age for marriage in India is 21 for men and 18 for women.

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The opposition party in the state – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party – said the law paves the way for a social evil against teenage girls in the state. BJP leaders walked out of the Rajasthan Assembly on Friday after a discussion on the bill to register a protest.

A BJP leader from Rajasthan said the “Permission of Child Marriage” bill will create a “dark chapter” for the Indian state.

“Does this allow us to unanimously allow child marriage?” According to news agency ANI, BJP leader and Assembly member Ashok Lahoti questioned on Friday. “The bill will write a dark chapter in the history of the Assembly.”

Leader of Opposition in the state administration Gulab Chand Kataria said that the Congress government is repeating the mistakes of the past with this law.

“At that time also, you used the same words that now… you are authorizing minor children to get married,” Mr. Kataria said. Indian Express. “The only restriction is that their next of kin has to be informed within 30 days.”

But the Congress party has denied these allegations.

Congress Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal in the western state said: “You say child marriage will be validated. Nowhere does this amendment say that child marriage will be recognized.

The state government said that officially recording the marriage would help the administration to track it and take action against it. NDTV.

The new bill is for the welfare of women, Mr. Dhariwal said. “The marriage certificate is a legal document, in the absence of which a widow will not get the benefit of any government scheme.”

Some users on social media pointed out that the move could help draw attention to marriages between minors – which were previously unregistered and unnoticed by the government.

By country, India saw a 50 percent increase in child marriages in 2020 national crime data.


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