Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Child Marriages in India - Guest Post by Gautami from Everything Distils Into Reading

I thought of talking about this issue, which isn't widely known outside of India. In some parts of India, child marriages are still very common. Children as young as few months are married off by their parents on a few auspicious days of the year. It is more popular in states like Rajasthan and West Bengal, where child marriages are the norm.

In India, the legal age for marriage for girls is 18 and boys, it is 21. But in the rural areas, that is seldom followed. Getting married girls around 13-16 years old is pretty common to boys a few years older. Why is it done? Certain religious beliefs say that a girl ought to be married before she attains the age of puberty. And also it helps in keeping the virginity of the girl intact. Boys too wouldn't stray.

Then there are certain beliefs, which say girls ought not be educated. They are better off married and having babies. Girls are brought up with that mindset and therefore are allured by bright clothes and jewellery. Young girls don't understand the pitfalls of early marriages, and of course motherhood until it is too late. How is a child mother equipped to take care of her child?

It is so rampant that even some political leaders have got married their daughters before the legal age with much pomp and show. The law turns a blind eye and it goes on. Even in the rural areas of Delhi, in our schoools too, I have seen girls being married off at the age of 16-17. And when we try to protest, no one is prepared to listen to us.

Because of child marriages, we also have the social evil of child widows, who are shunned from society and lead a life devoid of colour. (that is another issue, I will take on soon). We also must not forget abandoned child brides. In rural India, once a girl is married off, getting her married for the second time is very difficult.

As long as there is no awareness, and girls are considered commodities, it isn't going to stop anyday soon.

Yet, there are people working towards it and girls are coming out against it. That's a good thing.



Many thanks to Gautami for visiting Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Be sure and drop visit Gautami at Everthing Distils Into Reading. If you don't already follow her blog regularly, you should!

17 comments:

  1. Gautami -

    It is a troubling topic to be sure. Cultural differences are an amazing thing and what seems strange, backward, and bizarre to one part of the world certainly isn't to the other. It's interesting to get an 'insiders' view on something like this. Thank you very much for sharing it.

    cjh

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  2. Wow, what an amazing post. Unfortunately, I have nothing more profound to say. Gautami, thanks for sharing this with us!

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  3. Thank you for sharing that story.

    I saw a documentary recently about a womens shelter in Afghanistan but it was the same issue. Was very sad but good to see there was someone there trying to change this issue.

    The practice is more common around the world then I think most people think.

    Actually in some Aboriginal communities in Australia this is also still a practice. It is slowly gaining awareness here and is being stopped by the communities themselves. Recently a 12 year old filed charges against her "husband" who raped her.

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  4. It is truly a shame that this still goes on. Thank you for your post.

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  5. This is so sad, but hopefully educating people will cause it to change. Thanks for this informative post.

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  6. This topic was wonderfully covered in the movie "Water," released in the US in 2006 and nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar. Here's the link to the movie's info on IMDB for those interested:

    Water by director Deepa Mehta.

    Thanks for addressing this important issue.

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  7. A very sobering post. It is sad when girls grow up not valuing their true worth as a person and reaching for their full potential. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  8. This is one of the issues which truly saddens me. We teachers do try to do our best but it never is enough..

    Thanks folks!

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  9. Gautami, thank you for shining light on this.
    And thanks, Wendy, for having this guest post.

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  10. Thanks for your post, Gautami. It's sad that this kind of thing still continues. I picked up a copy of the movie that Tammy mentioned, Water, a little while ago but haven't had a chance to watch it yet.

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  11. Wow Guatami--what a powerful post. I had no idea that this was occuring in such large numbers in India, but hopefully as more and more people become aware of the situation something can be done. Amazing about the child widows and abandoned brides...thanks for sharing this with us.

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  12. It is nice to see another familiar face in book blogosphere. Hello, Gautami! Thanks for sharing this.

    Hi Wendy!

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  13. This is a topic that has troubled me for a long time. Your right, that women must be stopped from being treated as commodities!

    Did you see the movie Water? I know that there was a big controversy when they wanted to shoot it in India. It told the story of childhood widows in India.

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  14. Thank you to everyone who stopped in to comment! And a big thank you to Gautami for stepping in for me and bringing to our attention such an important issue.

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  15. It is sad for me to think that women are still treated in this way--as commodities--in the 21st century. Its sad and appalling, but without education these women are doomed to repeat these rituals with their own children.

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  16. I understand that some cultures consider people to be adults at different ages (and really, you can make the case that 16, 18, 21, are all fairly arbitrary), but if you let people get married at a young age, you are saying that they are adults...aren't you? Oh hypocrisy...

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