CACM is working since 2013 to strengthen the State Accountability towards total elimination of Child Marriage in India through effective legal and institutional mechanisms. CACM believes that Child Marriage (CM) includes all forms of early and forced marriages. The following are non-negotiable elements in all cases of CM:
CM is a grave Human Rights violation and denial of all interrelated rights of child. irrespective of the reason and the circumstances accompanying it, Amongst other things, it leads to complete loss of childhood along with health, education and overall development of the child / children involved
All CM are cases of forced marriages as the informed consent of children involved is never present and hence it is a clear Human Rights denial case
CM is deep rooted in patriarchy, gender inequality and gender based discrimination along with larger issues of poverty, Gender Based Violence, Stereotypes, lack of access and opportunities to education, livelihood and security for girls, increasing sexual assault, and is directly linked to the economics of and ownership, dowries, bride prices and power of men to buy and control women/girls
Child marriages in many cases are means of grave human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation
All Child Marriages are harmful practices and leads to law and order issues in society and hence needs to be addressed accordingly
In order to understand the complexity and measure the nuances of this problem, we attempt to take a fresh look at the issue in hand. Throughout, we analyse CM from three entirely new lenses:
1. CM is clearly a Human Rights violation (inclusive of it being a grave Child Rights violation). It is undermining to see it solely as a social, economic or cultural norm. In fact, under the vote bank politics of the country where children are voiceless, India has adopted the appeasement approach by not taking a serious approach to this issue.
2. CM is a clear law and order crisis of present times, thriving in India since ages and only increasing in numbers.
3. CM is a child development issue and undermines the whole childhood of parties involved.
The need is for a widespread action on a campaign mode focusing on the following, among others:
· Child marriage is a pure Rights violation of children, especially girl children.
· The Right to free and compulsory education should be extended beyond 14 years to cover children upto 18 years of age in neighborhood schools
· The State has a clear role in ensuring a law and order situation by protecting children from being married off in the fear of insecurity of girls in a unprotected society.
Landmark Judgment – Independent Thought vs. Union of India
As part of the ongoing Campaign Against Child Marriage (CACM) we were instrumental in historic judgment by the Supreme Court of India on 11 October 2017, the International Girl Child Day, in the matter; Independent Thought vs. Union of India (W.P. Civil 382 of 2013) where the Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which allowed marital rape within child marriages, was read down. The apex court ruled the “Exception in rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitrary… It violates bodily integrity of the girl child. If a man has sexual intercourse with a wife who is below 18 years, it will be an offence of Rape. The minor wife can complain against the husband within one year”.
While exception 2 to Section 375 IPC is read down as follows: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being 18 years, is not rape”.
It is also clarified
- That Section 198(6) of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 will apply to cases of rape of “wives” below 18 years, and cognizance can be taken […meaning within one year from the date of the commission of the offence]
- The judgment would have prospective effect [in future cases only].