Rajasthan's Marriages Amendment Bill 2021 has sparked a row declaring that child marriages can be registered under the law. As per the new Bill, parents or guardians of minors can register the marriage.
NGOs and social groups working against child marriage wrote a letter to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and demanded that child marriages should be outright banned, reported NDTV.
Many argued that the Rajasthan government is giving backdoor legitimacy to child marriages in the state. However, the state government had earlier said that the intention of the new law is to give the victims of child marriage an opportunity to get the marriage annulled.
The Child Rights Commission Chairperson Sangeeta Beniwal said that the government is not validating or encouraging child marriages at all.
Activist Kriti Bhati said that the new act is a step backward. She added that allowing child marriages is backing the mindset that women are property. "You are also endorsing sexual offenses with minors, teenage pregnancy, and a host of other problems".
The government had stated last week that they are merely protecting the rights of the children who are part of a social practice that still exists in Rajasthan. As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) survey 2015-2016, the rate of child marriages in Rajasthan has dropped from 65% to 35%. But the number of minors undergoing the regressive practice is still high.