Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Oct 2017 10:20:48

THE entire nation shares the sense of utter of dismay expressed by the honourable Supreme Court over the fact that the country still has as many as 2.3 crore child-brides. It is a matter not just a revelation but of extreme shock to realise that so many child-marriages are still taking place in the Indian society even in these modern times when perceptions have changed already and new norms have come in. Despite this, the larger Indian society is still persisting with some of its old and discarded social practices like child-marriage. This realisation pushes us into a state of shock from which it may never be easy to emerge.

A Supreme Court Bench formed by Mr. Justice M.B. Lokur and Mr. Justice Deepak Gupta recently gave the landmark verdict that sex with a minor wife is rape, also referred to a study that revealed the shocking reality that as many as 2.3 crore child-brides are in Indian homes. The honourable judges has said, every one out of every five Indian marriages violated the laws prohibiting child marriage. They expressed their deep sense of dismay and recommended strong steps to be taken to alter this social condition in India.

The biggest misfortune of Indian society is that very large percentage of people are yet not willing to break free from undesirable traditions. That is the reason why honour killing, Sati, and other evil practices are still prevalent in the society. Child-marriage is one such practice which good numbers among Indian people are unwiling to give up. The number of 2.3 crore child-brides, as highlighted by the honourable judges, may not represent the actual extent of the undesirable practice and there may still be much gigger numbers of child-brides in the country, away from the public glare. That is the reason why the two judges have insisted upon strong steps to stop child-marriage.

One of the ugliest dimensions of the larger Indian society is that people turn a blind eye towards evil practices that go on in the society. If everybody starts resisting the evil practices and report those to the police or other authorities, much of the nonsense may get stalled before it takes place. Popular deterrent and social boycott are very strong tools in the fight against bad social practices. Fear of social isolation and ridicule can act as a brake on evil prectics. Yet another deterrent is in the form of uncompromising laws and that spare none and an administration that listens to no pleadings of law-breakers, as well as a judiciary that entertains no nonsense on such sensitive issues.

Much depends, of course, on the Government of the day. This is not a political statement; it is only the statement about the need for the socity to have very strong will to demolish wrong social practices. This work is done the best if the Government lends its strong arm to combat social evils. Child-marriage is one social evil that needs to be discouraged totally.