Author: Abhaya Mohan, Student at Kerala Law Academy Law College, Trivandrum, Kerala.
Forced marriage happens is when one or both spouses do not give valid consent to the marriage. Those marriages occur solely by the will of parents or any other family members. In India, Marriages are solemnized by personal laws which means, believers of Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity have their Laws regarding marriage, divorce maintenance, and property apart from this there is the Special Marriage Act, 1955.No personal laws legalize child marriages, the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, prohibits the marriage of girls under the age of 18 and boys under the age of 21. Even in the case of adults forcing someone into marriage by the use of guilt, threats, coercion, blackmail, harassment, financial and emotional pressure, physical violence, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, psychological duress, or might even be tricked into getting married is against Human Rights. The forced marriage rate of women is higher than men. When women reach the age of 25 probability of pressurizing them to get married is greater than men. Forced marriage can hurt women’s health and development.
FORCED MARRIAGE AND ARRANGED MARRIAGES
There is a remarkable difference between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. In arranged families of both spouses have the final word in arranged marriages but the ultimate decision belongs to the concerned parties. One or both spouses disagrees with the marriage and do not give valid consent then it will become a forced marriage.
REASONS FOR FORCED MARRIAGES
The main reason for forced marriage is when a woman found someone by herself who she would like to live with, without the approval of her family. Most probably her partner is from another community. This will provoke her family and they find out another groom without her knowledge and force or threaten her to get married for the sake of her family. Many of the women agree with them at last a few of them might fight back.
Until a daughter is married, her chastity is considered to be a marker of her father’s honor. This motivates men to marry off their daughters early. Social pressure to marry at puberty can be enormous within certain castes. Some girls are promised in marriage before they are born in order to “secure” their future. Once they reach puberty, gauna or “send-off” ceremonies take place and they are sent to their husband’s home to commence the married life.
Women with no education are more likely to get married than men. In rural areas parents are reluctant to give education to their daughters because women are meant be with another family after marriage thus giving education to male child will become beneficial when parents become old ages.
STUDIES AND STATISTICS
The UK based Forced Marriages Unit comprising officials from the Foreign Office and the Home Office said the number of cases linked to India in 2019 was 65 cases (5 percent of the total cases handled during the year).In 2018 it was 85 cases.
A report of the UN Secretary-General on child and forced marriages have taken note of national policies and capacity-building initiatives taken in India to promote gender and child-sensitive health services, including for girls subjected to such alliances, and “promising experiences” about supporting those affected by the practices.
The Report of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on “Issue of a child, early and forced marriage,” which covers the period from June 2018 to May 2020, said that several States adopted legislative and policy measures to raise the minimum age of marriage and also put in place comprehensive strategies to combat child, early and forced marriage.
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data reveals 47 forced marriages happened in Kerala, the highest literacy state in the year 2019. There were no such cases was registered in 2016 but the number rose to three in 2017, 10 in the year 2018, and 42 in 2019.
Civil laws applicable to all religions irrespective of the personals laws are
Section 3 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) Civil laws-The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006
The Guardian and Wards Act. 1890, The Majority Act, 1875,
The family Courts Act, 1984.Article 16 of the Human Right convention.
Contact a women cell of local police near the person resides. File a written complaint with your details and also about the person who is forcefully making you get married along with the place and date of the incident.
File a complaint under Domestic Violence under PWDW Act 2005 against the person who is forcing you to get married in most cases it is the complainant’s parents or close relatives in the respective court. The magistrate will issue a temporary restraining order against the person who is forcing you to get married.
File a complaint in the National Commission for women or state women’s commission.
Seek legal help from an experienced Lawyer.
A Suit can be filed for an annulment of marriage in family court within one year of marriage
If the consent is obtained by fraud or force Marriage may be annulled by a decree of nullity.
Seek help from NGOs working for the prevention of forced marriages.
India’s growth in science and technology, Economics, Education, Disaster management, and other fields for the past few years is remarkable but when it comes to the matter of an individual’s Right to choose their life partners and live life without a companion is still taboo and socially unacceptable. Parents are forcing their children to choose a life against their will. Forced marriage is illegal in every aspect. It violates rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution and also individual Human Rights.
Emotional and Physical abuse even leads to depression. By attaining financial independence, education, and awareness about their rights will give them the confidence to raise a voice against injustice.
The lack of legislative enactments to eliminate gender-based discrimination and forced marriages are evident. However, with the help of provisions of different civil and criminal laws in India and with the help of different organizations, working for compacting forced marriages.