Child marriage is often considered illegal and invalid, but the governing law, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, has specific provisions regarding its validity. Under the 1929 Act, child marriage was punishable but valid, while the 2006 Act changed this by making child marriages voidable. A child, as defined by this law, is a girl under 18 years and a boy under 21 years.
A voidable marriage remains valid until one of the contracting parties, who was a child at the time of marriage, seeks annulment through a court decree. If a girl below 18 or a boy below 21 gets married, they can nullify the marriage legally. Without obtaining a nullity decree, the marriage remains valid. On the other hand, a void marriage is inherently null and void from the beginning.
In both types of marriages, divorce is not necessary; instead, a nullity decree from the court is required. However, this decree must be obtained within two years of the individuals reaching the age of majority, which is before a girl turns 20 and a boy turns 23. After this age, they would need to pursue a divorce through the court to separate legally.
Status of child marriage
Circumstances in which child marriage is void are —Where a child, being a minor—
(a) is taken or enticed out of the keeping of the lawful guardian
(b) by force compelled, or by any deceitful means induced to go from any place
(c) is sold for the purpose of marriage; and made to go through a form of marriage or if the minor is married after which the minor is sold or trafficked or used for immoral purposes, such marriage shall be null and void. In all other cases child marriage is voidable
What about child born from Child marriage?
Child marriage refers to the union of two individuals, typically under the age of 18, and when a child is born from such a marriage, it often presents significant challenges. These children face increased risks of health problems, lack of education, and limited opportunities, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and inequality. Efforts to eradicate child marriage and provide support for these children’s well-being are essential to breaking this harmful cycle.
Who is punishable for child marriage?
Those involved in child marriages can be held legally responsible, including parents, guardians, and anyone facilitating or officiating the marriage ceremony. Laws and penalties vary by jurisdiction, but the focus is typically on deterring and punishing those responsible for enabling child marriages to protect the rights and well-being of minors.
What can I do to help stop child marriage?
Every child in India has the right to finish school and to be protected from violence. Early and forced marriage still stops too many girls from enjoying those rights, but together we can end this harmful practise for good.
Here’s our guide to reporting child marriage and raising your voice in your community.
Three simple actions against child marriage
Ending child marriage is no small task, but many small actions can create big change. We don’t have to stand by and accept practices that hurt children and communities – instead, here are three actions we can all take:
- Report any child marriage happening around you to the proper authorities.
- Educate your friends, family and community about why child marriage is harmful.
- Promise to never be a part of any event that promotes child marriage.
Status of child marriage, Status of child marriage