Child Marriage Restraint Act 1928

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When Child Marriage Restraint Act was introduced in 1928, prohibiting child marriage under the age of 14, orthodox elements within the Hindu and Muslim communities joined hands together to protest against the bill.

When Child Marriage Restraint Act was introduced in 1928, prohibiting child marriage under the age of 14, orthodox elements within the Hindu and Muslim communities joined hands together to protest against the bill.

 

Jawaharlal Nehru penned an article titled, "Orthodox of All Religions, Unite!" narrating an incident in Benaras where protestors “with all manner of caste-marks proudly displayed on their foreheads marching shoulder to shoulder with bearded maulvis. The communalists of various groups, despite their mutual hostility, will embrace each other like long-lost brothers and swear fealty in a new joint campaign."

 

On a different note, Periyar supporting the right to remarry (quoting Gandhi's Navejeevan article), wrote in Kudiarasu, "My heart trembles when I look at the number of Hindu child widows as per the 1921 census. I shudder to hear that around 12,000 widows are tender kids less than 5 years of age and there are 2 lakh widows less than 15 years of age who are forced to suppress their natural desires. Which civilized world will accept such heinous cruelty?"

 

Having co-founded the Women's India Association (WIA) and as editor of the journal Stri-Dharma, Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy powerfully articulated the demand to criminalize child marriage and played a crucial role in passing the Sharda Act. The act fixed the age of marriage for girls at 14 years and boys at 18 years. The Sharda Act was the first social reform issue that was taken up by the organized women in India.

 

Below is the number of child marriages and widows registered (as per Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy's submission to the Imperial Legislative Council). Periyar also presented similar data, later published in his 'Why were women enslaved?'.

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