Image source – The New Indian Express

In recent years, Gujarat has successfully intervened to prevent 19 cases of underage marriages while simultaneously uncovering a disturbing trend of 61 child marriages within five years. A group of approximately 38 teenagers were saved from a collective wedding event in Ahmedabad’s Vatava locality. The permissible age for marriage is 18 for females and 21 for males, as per the law. This revelation highlights the need for concerted efforts to address this harmful practice and safeguard the rights and well-being of children.

According to official records, various preventive measures and strict legal actions were taken by authorities to thwart 19 instances of child marriages. With the aid of volunteers, the District Child Marriage Prohibition Office, and the local police, a representative from the ‘Pryas’ NGO took swift action to halt the wedding preparations in Ahmedabad. The member discovered that among the 38 impending mass weddings, some were also child marriages. These interventions were crucial in protecting young individuals from being forced into early marriages, which can have severe physical, psychological, and social consequences.

The data further revealed that Gujarat witnessed 61 cases of child marriages over five years, signaling a concerning prevalence of this practice within the state. Child marriages not only curtail a child’s education and personal development but also perpetuate a cycle of poverty, reinforce gender inequalities, and jeopardize their overall health and safety.

To combat this issue effectively, experts emphasize the importance of comprehensive awareness campaigns targeting communities, parents, and stakeholders. These initiatives should highlight the negative implications of child marriages and promote alternative options such as education, empowerment, and delayed marriages based on legal age limits.

Moreover, legal authorities and law enforcement agencies need to be vigilant in enforcing existing laws and regulations about child marriages. Stringent penalties and legal repercussions should be imposed on those who facilitate or participate in such marriages, sending a strong message that child marriages will not be tolerated.

Re-reported from the story originally published in The New Indian Express

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