Ma­mata Ban­er­jee’s crown­ing in WB buoys anti-BJP Third Front

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NEWS - Aloke Tikku let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

There is lit­tle dif­fer­ence be­tween Hindu and Mus­lim fam­i­lies when it comes to mar­ry­ing off their daugh­ters at an early age.

One in three mar­ried women from both com­mu­ni­ties tied the knot well be­fore their 18th birth­day, mak­ing them vul­ner­a­ble to not just higher ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rates but also do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Of­fi­cial statis­tics on mar­ried In­dian women re­leased on Friday show 31.3% Hindu women and 30.6% Mus­lim women were 17 or younger at the time of their wed­ding. Many of them hadn’t even turned 10.

The le­gal age for mar­riage is 18 for women and 21 for men. Any mar­riage be­low the stip­u­lated age is con­sid­ered child mar­riage un­der the law.

Sikh, Chris­tian, Buddhist and Jain women fared far bet­ter, the cen­sus report on the decadal head­count in 2011 said. Only 6% of men were mar­ried be­fore 18.

“It is shock­ing that decades af­ter hav­ing laws pro­hibit­ing child mar­riage, the prac­tice is still so ram­pant,” said Ran­jana Ku­mari, di­rec­tor of the Delhi-head­quar­tered Cen­tre for So­cial Re­search.

Data re­leased by the home ministry’s cen­sus com­mis­sioner re­vealed 6% of all Hindu women were mar­ried be­fore they turned 10.

The cor­re­spond­ing fig­ure for Mus­lim women was 5%. But the sil­ver lin­ing is that the prac­tice is on the de­cline. The 2001 cen­sus found 43% of women were mar­ried be­fore 18 years of age. In 2011, the fig­ure stood at 30%.

Moves to form an anti-BJP fed­eral front gained mo­men­tum on Friday as prom­i­nent re­gional lead­ers backed the idea at Ma­mata Ban­er­jee’s sec­ond swearingin cer­e­mony as West Ben­gal chief min­is­ter.

Tak­ing the lead was former Bi­har chief min­is­ter and (From left) Delhi CM Arvind Ke­jri­wal, Bi­har CM Ni­tish Ku­mar, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Rashtriya Janata Dal (Dal) chief Lalu Prasad who said op­po­si­tion unity was im­per­a­tive.

Source: Cen­sus 2011

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