With cases of child marriages on a steady rise in India, authorities are doing everything they can to put a dent in the numbers. A recent report claimed that India has the sixth highest number of reported cases of child marriages in the world.
The district administration in Bundi, Rajasthan has taken it to the next level to make sure that child marriages do not take place and in case they do, those involved can be easily caught. They have deployed numerous teams of gram sevaks, school principals and Anganwadi workers, reports The Times of India.
The authorities were recently instructed to keep an eye on household which might take part in pre-wedding festivities such as whitewashing the walls, henna on girls' hands, etc. These might indicate that a wedding might take place and the authorities will investigate the matter and see if any wedding, especially child marriage, might take place. Along with this, other activities like bands in the vicinity, priests in houses, and a high number of vehicle bookings. School principals have been told be vigilant on keeping a record of students taking leave from school and if they do, to find out the reason.
This mandate comes just before Akshay Tritiya, a day considered to be auspicious for Hindus new investments and especially, to buy gold. Since gold plays an important role in any Indian wedding, authorities will be expected to keep an eagle eye on this too.
Printing presses have also been directed to have the birth certificates of the brides and grooms submitted to them before the wedding invitations are being printed. In the invitations, the date of birth along with the years should be present alongside the names. The wedding invitation should also carry a warning explaining that child marriage is a punishable offence which could entail jail time.
A TOI report states that the statuary warning should read, "child marriage is a punishable crime and for marriage, the girl and the boy should respectively be over 18 and 21 years of age." Same instructions have been given to those who rent out tents and lights. They are expected to report to the concerned authorities if there is any violation.
The Prohibition of Child Marriages Act which replaced the Child Marriage Restraint Act in 2006 has set the age limit as 18 years for girls and 21 for boys to get married. However, many, primarily in rural India do not follow this rule and marry their children, especially girl children, at a very early age.