Child marriage, according to the Indian law, is a marriage where either the woman is below age 18 or the man is below age 21. Most child marriages involve underage women, many of whom are in poor socio-economic conditions & lack of awareness.

Child marriage still remains a common phenomenon in India, despite endeavors on the part of the Government and civil society to eradicate it. In order to eradicate the child marriages within the society, the Government of India enacted the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 repealing the earlier legislation of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929. This legislation is armed with enabling provisions to prohibit child marriages, protect and provide relief to victims and enhanced punishment for those who abet, promote or solemnize such marriages.

Implementation of the Act

To implement the said Act, the Government of Tamil Nadu have framed and notified the State Rules on 30.12.2009. The District Social Welfare Officers of each district are appointed as Child Marriage Prohibition Officer to implement the said Act effectively.  The Child Marriage Prohibition Officers are vested with powers to act upon any information of any solemnization through any mode of communication and to file petition for annulling the Child Marriage in District Court and also for the custody and maintenance of the children of Child Marriage. Panchayat Level Core Committees have been constituted under the Chairmanship of Panchayat Presidents to report and prevent child marriages in rural areas.

Steps taken for Awareness to prevent child marriage:

  1. Creation of awareness among the public regarding child marriage through various programs like Puppet show, Street plays, Rallies and Seminars.
  2. In order to protect the Girl Children from the evil of Child Marriage,                   a Documentary Film was produced and telecasted in Television.  The Government of India has telecasted this documentary film in Doordarshan with English subtitle.
  1. The various  welfare schemes  implemented by Tamil Nadu Government  focus towards the education of girl children and the marriage assistance schemes have been designed in such a manner that the benefits reaches the girl who has completed 18 years of age, with the aim of eradicating child marriages.
  2. 4.    Caravan campaign has been conducted in 13 districts to prohibit the child marriage with financial support of UNICEF.
  3. 5.   The Act and Rules have been translated in Tamil and distributed free of cost to the public thereby making awareness about the Act and Rules among the public. Since 2008, around 5284 child marriages have been stopped in Tamil Nadu.

Annulment and Voidability of Child Marriage

The child who was a party to the marriage can get the child marriage annulled within the period of 2 years from the date of completion of 18 years. Only the children affected by child marriage can file a petition for voidability or annulment of marriage. Under certain circumstances, child marriage can be declared null and void by the Courts.