According to a recent report by Forced Marriage Unit of Britain's foreign and home offices, India is identified as the 4th highest nation with forced marriages. The UK Government body based its grading on the number of cases registered on forced marriages with the legal institutions of UK. Out of the total 1196 cases of forced marriages reported in the UK, 82 were from India.
The list is topped by Pakistan with 439 cases then Bangladesh (121),Somalia (91) and India (82). According to the latest figures, of the 82 cases in India, 53 involved females and 29 involved males. Forced Marriage Unit also said," The proportion of cases in India in 2017 are similar to 2016." The youngest potential victim was 2 years old and the oldest was 100. It also shows that 21.4% of men and 77.8% of women are involved in majority of the cases.
In its report, the Unit says, "Basically, forced marriages means when one or both spouses do not consent to marry and involve at least one UK citizen. It is not only a problem specific to one country or culture; it is propagated over 90 countries across Asia, the middle east, Africa, Europe and North America. It's a concealed crime and victims may dread reprisals from their family if they come forward.
If one or both the spouses do not consent to the marriage then the emotional threat, physical force and financial pressure or any other form of coercion is involved. No major faith in the UK advocates forced marriage and blatantly, freely given consent is a prerequisite of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh marriages."
The reasons of forced marriages are poor educational opportunities, the patriarchal systems and class and cast influence.
Laws in India
In India, boys under the age of 21 and girls under the age of 18 can't marry legally. There are laws which shield the sufferers of 'forced marriage' in India. In 2013,the first United Nations Human Rights Council, resolution against child, early, and forced marriages was adopted.
The civil laws applicable to al communities in India are:
1/ Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA)
2/ Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA)
3/ Family Courts Act, 1984 (FCA)
4/ Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 (G&WA)
5/ Majority Act, 1875
6/ Family Courts Rules as laid down in various states
Even, Delhi High Court said, "The Right to choose your life partner, or whom you associate with is a fundamental right. It is an integral part of the right to life."