Child marriage is illegal in India under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006 but the practice is still prevalent in some states, including Rajasthan, on a large scale.
The menace has existed right under the nose of authorities who have done little to counter it.
Now, 47,000 marriage tent dealers under the banner of Rajasthan Tent Dealers Kiraya Vyavsai Samiti have decided to fight this social evil. Their decision – no supply of tents for child marriages and enforcing some strict monitoring measures to ensure they are not taken for a ride.
The association has recently decided that they will ask the parents of the bride and groom for birth certificates before providing tents and other supplies. Also, if they find that they are being lied, they will immediately inform the nearby police station.
“When anyone will come to book us to supply the tent and do other decorations, we will ask for the birth certificate of the boy and girl to ensure it is not child marriage. In case a person or group of persons gives us wrong information, we will immediately inform the nearby police and other government officials for the required intervention,” said Ravi Jindal, president of Rajasthan Tent Dealers Kiraaya Vyavsai Samiti.
“In the age certificate, if we find that either bride or groom or both are minors, we will not only say no to the booking. We will also inform the police and other officers concerned,” he further added.
In Rajasthan, the festival of Akha Teej (or Akshay Tritiya), which falls between the last week of last week of April and first week of May, is considered a holy time for marriages. As a result, the demand for wedding tents and other supplies is high during this season.
Recently, a video of child marriage of a six-year old girl and a minor boy in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh had caused a stir on social media.
According to the health survey 2012-13, about 51 percent married women in Rajasthan, who are aged between 20-24 years, were married off before the legal age of 18.
The district of Bhilwara leads the chart with the highest percentage of child marriages in the state. A survey revealed that more than 75 percent of married women aged between 20-24 years were married before the age of 18.
Under such circumstances, the step taken by marriage tent dealers is praiseworthy and will surely encourage the government to consider some strict action to eradicate this social evil.