Registering all weddings may help check child marriages: ex-judge

Registering all weddings may help check child marriages: ex-judge

One of the ways to curb child marriages is to compulsorily register all marriages in the country, said Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri, retired judge, High Court of Karnataka.

He was speaking after releasing a policy brief on "Ending Impunity for Child Marriage in India: A Review of Normative and Implementation Gaps" organised by the Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) and the Center for Reproductive Rights here on Saturday.

A question was raised on compulsory registration of marriages, suggesting if licensing of marriages could be an alternative for two adults to get into the wedlock. To this, Justice Hinchigeri said that it would be ideal, but it can become a curse that will encourage corruption in government offices. Licensing may not be a viable or practical solution to end child marriages in the country, he added.

Justice Hinchigeri said there are options for preventing child marriages by keeping the wedding card maker and choultry owners to verify the age of the couple before they facilitate the wedding ritual.

Talking about the key findings and recommendations of the policy brief, Advocate Jayna Kothari, executive director, CLPR said that the challenge in stopping child marriages is going through the legal procedure of producing documents. She said when prohibition officers reach the wedding venue, where they suspect the girl is a minor, the parents of the girl are not able to produce any age proof of the girl and, by the time the documentation gets ready, the marriage would have taken place.

Jayna highlighted that there was a need to make way for the minor girls to approach courts to annual their wedding. She said that lower courts are easily granting bail to culprits/husbands who are sexually abusing minor girls in the wedlock.

The event was attend by district judges, judicial officers, magistrates, officials from government departments and members of various NGOs.