In­dian view­ers seek ban on child mar­riage show

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

MUM­BAI: A TV soap opera that shows a 10-year-old boy mar­ried to a 19-year-old woman has out­raged In­dian view­ers who want to ban the “bizarre show” for glo­ri­fy­ing child mar­riage.

The show Pehredar Piya Ki ( Hus­band’s Guard) was launched last month on Sony En­ter­tain­ment Tele­vi­sion – a pop­u­lar Hindi gen­eral en­ter­tain­ment chan­nel in In­dia – and is aired ev­ery week­day night in the prime 8.30pm slot.

A Change. org pe­ti­tion urg­ing in­for­ma­tion and broad­cast­ing min­is­ter Sm­riti Irani to ban the show gar­nered nearly 50 000 sig­na­tures, just 48 hours af­ter its launch. Pe­ti­tioner Mansi Jain ques­tioned the in­flu­ence the soapie would have on view­ers, and said it showed the child per­form mar­riage rit­u­als such as putting ver­mil­ion on the older ac­tor play­ing his wife.

“This soap is en­cour­ag­ing, glo­ri­fy­ing and pro­mot­ing child mar­riages and will neg­a­tively af­fect the en­tire so­ci­ety,” Asha Bajpai, pro­fes­sor of law at the Tata In­sti­tute of So­cial Sciences told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion.

“And what about the 10-yearold boy play­ing the hus­band’s role? What kind of val­ues are we in­cul­cat­ing in him at this young, im­pres­sion­able age?”

The le­gal age for mar­riage in In­dia is 18 for women and 21 for men. But child mar­riage, though il­le­gal, re­mains wide­spread in parts of the coun­try.

In­dia has one of the world’s high­est rates of child mar­riage, de­spite moves to toughen penal­ties against the crime. In­dia im­poses a $1 500 (R20 140) fine and two years in prison for par­ents caught mar­ry­ing off their un­der-age chil­dren. In­dia has been crack­ing down on child mar­riages and cam­paign­ers said such shows could dent progress.

The ac­tors have de­fended the story, say­ing the soapie is purely en­ter­tain­ment and does not pro­mote child mar­riage. Sony En­ter­tain­ment Tele­vi­sion of­fi­cials re­mained un­avail­able for com­ment. – Reuters

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