It’s against Indian law to marry off girls younger than 18, but a group thinks letting them go as young as 13 if they are physically matured enough and it can reduce the increasing rape incidents in the area.
In Haryana, India, Sarva Khap Jat Panchayat has been at the forefront of demanding reservations for Jats(a community of traditionally non-elite tillers and herders) in government jobs, but the council now intend to discuss a the suggestion that marriage age for girls be lowered to curb rising incidents of rape in the state.
The supreme council is an umbrella body of khap panchayats (village councils) across the state. Although, Khaps have no legal sanction, they often function like kangaroo courts and issue social diktats that are enforced in the villages.
At a meeting to hold on Saturday, Sarva Khap Jat Panchayat will discuss the marriage age issue and how the government could be compelled to get the bar lowered in Haryan, where at least 15 rapes have been reported in the past month.
Informing reporters about the meeting, spokesperson of the Sarva Khap Jat Panchayat, Sube Singh Samain said: “The meeting aims at knowing the views of various khap panchayats about the issue of lowering the marriageable age to prevent rape incidents in the state. Representatives of around 100 khaps across the state will attend the meeting to share their opinion and to present their proposals on the issue.”
Sube Singh had been over the news in India as he last week suggested that lowering the marriage age for women would prevent rape. He found backing former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala who said: “I am with the khaps on this issue. This will protect women.”
Randhir Singh, chief of the Sarva Khap Panchayat Meham Chaubisi (which represents 24 villages of Meham sub-division in Rohtak), told IANS that the government should not only remove the existing restriction on the marriageable age but leave the decision to a girl’s parents.
Under Indian law, girls below 18 years and boys below 21 years cannot legally get married.
“Let the parents decide when they want to marry off their wards. Girls can be married off a couple of years earlier than the stipulated age of 18 years if they have physically grown up,” Randhir Singh said. One wonders how young he’ll be willing to marry off his girls if he thinks 18 is old.