Indian viewers seek ban on child marriage show
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