Child marriages blemish Meghalaya’s matrilineal society
New Delhi: Meghalaya has figured among the top 10 states with the highest percentage of child marriages among both boys and girls.‘Statistical Analysis of Child Marriage in India’, a report compiled by Young Lives, an NGO, in collaboration with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), lists Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Assam and Tripura from the northeastern region.
The report, which was released by Supreme Court judge A.K Sikri and is based on the 2011 Census, states that Rajasthan has the highest percentage of child marriages among girls (2.65 per cent).
The western state is followed by Meghalaya (2.22 per cent for girls and 2.46 per cent for boys), Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Nagaland, Assam, Maharashtra, Tripura, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Karnataka.
Though the state-wise figures are yet to be analysed, the issue itself in the hill states, like matrilineal Meghalaya, will generate a debate in the region, NCPCR authorities feel.
Sikri termed child marriage as “violation of human rights” of children and said there was a need to ensure proper implementation of legislations to curb such “socio-legal issues”, which also include dowry.
The SC judge said, “We can’t curtail one’s right to live by marrying her off at an early age,” he said. “If a girl child is not given a choice of what she wants to be in her life, it is attacking her dignity. It is violating her human rights.”
The percentage of girls marrying below the legal age in these states was higher than the national average of 1.32 per cent. Rajasthan also topped in the percentage (4.69 per cent) of boys marrying below the legal age of 21 years.
Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Sikkim have percentages ranging between 4.60 and 1.98.