45. Reading Skills Comprehension: Child Marriage

Child Marriage

Read the passage carefully and answer the following questions:-

Child marriages are rampant in North India. The curse continues to blight the lives of people even as the country stands at the threshold of the 21st century. Children bound by marriage are victims of blind customs and superstitions prevalent in rural areas and in certain urban concentrations as well among the weaker socio-economic groups. Nothing seems to stop this anti-social practice despite the Child Marriage Act passed as early as in 1929, which makes child marriage, a grave offence.

Why do marriages take place at all and what could be done to wean the people away from the practice? The evil thrives because of illiteracy and other related causes—the most important of which is the anxiety of parents to marry off their daughters as early as possible. In many states where illiteracy is high, like in Rajasthan, the practice of child marriage is in vogue. Alchha Teej’ is D-day for parents of minor girls, for, on that day, they seek their salvation from the anxiety of girls growing up in their midst.

Child marriage is less likely to take place if the parents are literate or at least the father is. He is then aware of the legal minimum age and health hazards his daughter will face by an early marriage. If the mother, otherwise literate, has been exposed to family planning message, she is also less likely to solemnize her daughter’s wedding at an age below the legal minimum.

Among the other factors causing parents to give away young daughters in marriage is the need felt by families having more than one daughter, to keep wedding expenses down. By marrying two daughters at the same time parents save on expenses. Parental anxiety about grown up (14 years and above) daughters going astray, forces the less educated to give away their female children in marriage.

The present law was amended in 1978 raising the minimum age of marriage for girls from 15 to 18 years and for boys from 18 to 21 years.: The committee on the status of women, in its report in 1974, had recommended that all offences under the child marriage restrained Act should be made cognizable and special officers be appointed to enforce the law. The Government, however, did not pay heed to it while raising the minimum age of marriage. At the same time, there is no foolproof system of registering births and thus, there is no legally enforceable method for establishing the age of a male or female.

The committee also recommended that a girl should be entitled to repudiate a child marriage on attaining maturity even if such marriage was consummated. But this remained only a hope which was never implemented by law or in its true spirit. It has never been appreciated that what is needed is a social action, especially by social activists and organisations so that the provisions of the legislation are rigorously practised.

The crux of the problem is that the girl child in traditional rural areas is caught in a situation, which is pre-determined and pre-destined. Her role is circumscribed around marriage and motherhood.

A. Answer the following questions briefly:

(i) What are the reasons for child marriage in India?

 (ii) How can the provisions of the legislation be rigorously practised?

 (iii) Why do parents want to get their girls married off early?

 (iv) Why is it often difficult to establish the age of male or female legally?

B. Find words in the passage which convey the similar meaning of the following words by choosing the correct option:

(i) Flourishing or spreading in an uncontrolled way……………

(a) prevalent               (b) threshold

(c) rampant                 (d) vogue

(ii) Most vital part of an issue ……………

(a) vogue                     (b) crux

 (c) legal                      (d) astray

 (iii) worry……………

  (a) solemnize            (b) consummate

 (c) rigour                    (d) anxiety

 (iv) dangers ………….

 (a) hazards                 (b) astray

(c) vogue                     (d) offence


(A) (i) Blind customs and superstitions.

(ii) The provisions of the legislation can be rigorously practised if social activists and organisations come up.

(iii) They are anxious about the girls to grow in their midst.

(iv) there is no full proof system of registering births.

(B) (i) rampant                       

(ii) crux

(iii) anxiety                            

(iv) hazards

Download the above Passage in PDF Worksheet (Printable)

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