*HISTORY OF CHILD MARRIAGE*
In the earliest known India young women and men rejoiced the open - minded concept of love. They also had the freedom to choose their partner without any fear of disgraceful event.
However, from Middle Age, as states and government developed, the political system modified the Indian society gradually .In this modified society; women lost their rights and had to obey rules and respect the code of behaviour. Since young women were considered irresponsible and illogical in love, parents married them early before they got caught in disgraceful event. Age at which the girl was to be married differed and it was rare for girls younger than 12 to be married in ancient times. Nevertheless brides became younger towards the medieval period, and it became increasingly common for girls as young as 6 or 8 to be married as Indian society. It was believed during those times that if two persons know each other right from childhood it enhanced understanding and affection. Hence, parents decided on the marriages of their children at a very early age although the daughter stayed with her parents until she attained the age of puberty.
*STEPS TO PREVENT CHILD MARRIAGE*
More than 40 per cent of the world's child marriages take place in India, even though the legal age for wedding is 18.Child marriage is of course banned in India and the Indian government has taken a strong step to tighten laws against child marriage, but unfortunately this custom continues to exist in spite of legal interdictions. The priests, police or local leaders will be jailed and fined if they will be found indulged in this illegal practice. This bill grants protection to many children forced into marriage every year in the rural parts of the country. They are forced to consent with their parent's decision or choice. Very often, they are even too young to understand the significance of marriage and do not understand the gravity of the event. Young girls are threatened, bullied, black-mailed and emotionally exploited.
In our country where ignorance and poverty are dominating factors, early marriage is often perceived as the only option for girls and is often seen by parents of young girls as a means of securing both their own and their daughter's future. The causes and consequences of child marriage are intrinsically linked, including girl's lack of autonomy and low levels of education, poor health status, poverty and overall low socioeconomic status.
The recent government studies shows that many girls are getting married before 18 in India. Naturally, child marriage causes high rates of maternal mortality and one woman dies every seven minutes in India because of a pregnancy-related cause. Minor girls are abruptly exposed to sex and they're abused and exploited sexually because when a child bride is married she is likely to be forced into sexual activity with her husband, and at an age where the bride is not physically and sexually mature it causes severe health consequences. It is a huge responsibility for a young girl to become a wife and mother and because girls are not adequately prepared to face these roles which demand a lot of maturity and a big sense of responsibility. Naturally, this heavy burden has a serious impact on their psychological welfare, their perceptions of themselves and also their marital relationship. Women who marry early are more likely to suffer inevitable psychological as well as physical consequences. Studies indicate that women who marry at young ages are more likely to believe that it is sometimes acceptable for a husband to beat his wife, and are therefore more likely to experience domestic violence themselves. Abuse is sometimes perpetrated by the husband's family as well as the husband himself, and girls who enter families as a bride often become domestic slaves for the in-laws and live under a constant threat and pressure. Early marriage has also been linked to wife abandonment and increased levels of divorce or separation. Child brides also face the risk of being widowed by their husbands who are often much older to them or they have an unexpected death. In these instances the young bride is likely to suffer additional discrimination as in Indian culture the young widows are held responsible of the death of their husband and suffer a loss of status and may be ostracized by society and denied property rights.
At this modern epoch of 21st century, the truth is bitter. The women remain the first victim of the Indian society which is even today based on rigid traditions, caste system and religious beliefs. Modernity and technological boom is but a superficial progress because the prevailing Indian conditions have not evolved ever since. There's no distinct progress in rural areas where the majority of the total Indian population lives. The rural population in India comprises the core of Indian society and also represents the real India. Many of Indian population lives in these villages. In such remote areas age old customs and traditional are firmly anchored and in spite of the ban, child marriages are taking place without any restriction or fear. The present condition of the Indian women is rather alarming because it is not normal to face and lead an oppressive life in the 21st century! Besides being caught in child marriages, minor girls and young women are today kidnapped, sexually abused, sold, ill treated, tortured and even killed.
To prevent child marriage the government should take radical actions. Most of the population of India lives in rural areas. Hence, the government should develop the rural areas and impart education in remote areas. The Indians who practice child marriage in remote villages or towns must be helped, guided, educated and informed about all the health and psychological problems which follows any child marriage. The government should make education free for children who are below average. So, that parents are encouraged to send their children to schools; especially girl child. The government should also try to uplift the poor conditions of rural people.
Mainly because of poverty and lack of education precisely many desperate parents from the poor class get their minor daughters married in return of money as old men pay a considerable sum to achieve young girls. Only when a joint effort is made, will the country rise and prosper, and the worthless customs such as child marriage will cease to exist and happy educated children will make a better future and a healthy nation.