Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect 

Every year , when Akhshay Tritiya comes around , there are reports of child marriages taking place by the hundreds all over North India , especially in Rajasthan. And every year the media faithfully reports these happenings, even though child marriages have been illegal in India since the then colonial British government passed the Sharada Act in 1931 to restrain child marriages. This law itself has been revisited several times to amend and update its provisions, and the most common amendment has been to raise the age of marriage from time to time as society supposedly became more progressive.

A few sporadic attempts are made to enforce the law every year because of the agility of the media and some activist groups and a few hapless people are arrested and harassed , but this is but a drop in the ocean. Bes ides it is very likely that the people involved in these child marriages are not even adequately informed even that there is such a law that prohibits child marriages , let alone the fact that they are breaking it. After all , the law proscribing such marriages is but a few decades old but he conventions and customs which lead people to marry off their young children believing that a particular date is auspicious and favorable is centuries old. So how can the law hope to win against traditions sanctified and practiced for centuries.

In India , we have a plethora of laws covering every subject on earth in life and death. These laws have been accumulating for a couple of hundred years now as modern Indian law has its origins in the laws dating back from the times of the East India Company. But we also have the mistaken belief that if a bunch of well meaning people get together and pass a law outlawing this or that , things will simply stop happening. One of the many reasons that law enforcement in India is lax is that law makers sit in literal ivory towers and pass legislation without trying to get under the skin of the people whom they are legislating for. Since very few understand, accept or own these laws except the educated elite who make these laws, it is no wonder that incompliance with the law is more the norm rather than the exception.

While acknowledging that no progressive society can simply and blindly take the majority opinion an legislate obscurantism and superstition into law, without some effort into educating our communities and audience , the whys and hows of the laws being written up and the judgments being passed. Without this effort, laws will continually to remain comatose on our statute book as usually happens. From the point of view of the illiterate villager in Rajasthan , there must be nothing but total bewilderment as to why a custom that he and his fore fathers have followed for generations has suddenly become a crime and the police are out chasing him.
Surely , before laws are enacted and brought into the statute book that declare a long sanctioned practice a crime, it is not too unreasonable to require that a suitable program of education and sensitization be carried out. Although elitist law makers make sneer at the thought of convincing people about facts that they consider very apparent and straight forward , the fact remains that without a systematic campaign to inform and educate, our efforts to reform and rein in superstition and unacceptable practices like child marriage will remain a distant dream.
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