I've seen poverty but my parents didn't marry me off early: Smriti Irani : The Tribune India

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I've seen poverty but my parents didn't marry me off early: Smriti Irani

Questions economic deprivation as the principal trigger behind India’s child marriages

I've seen poverty but my parents didn't marry me off early: Smriti Irani

Smriti Irani at the programme. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui



Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20

Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani on Monday questioned economic deprivation as the principal trigger behind India’s child marriages saying she had seen poverty in her own family but her parents didn’t marry her off early.

“I have seen poverty. We are three sisters. I’ve seen my parents having only Rs 150 in their pocket. But my parents didn’t marry me off early. This I can say firmly as I have seen poverty. Is it economy which has made us visible victims of child marriage or is it social psychology? The question needs reflection,” Irani said at a national consultation on prevention of child marriages where Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi announced his targets to reduce child marriages by 13 per cent by 2025.

Irani pointed out the irony of Satyarthi speaking only of reduction in the malaise and not its complete elimination.

“We normally don’t differ in opinions, but I am talking of elimination and he is talking of reduction. There’s a difference which stems from difference in our individual experiences,” Irani said while flagging the silence or conspiracy in many Indian homes where relatives condone child marriages.

The event is being held in the capital close on the heels of the ruling BJP government in Assam cracking down on child marriages.

Irani said laws had existed for years but the missing links and pathways to child marriage needed to be determined and plugged with government and societal collaboration.

She hailed PM Narendra Modi for piloting the menstrual hygiene protocol for girls to ensure families sent them to schools, besides arranging the Rs 5 lakh annual health cover for socially and economically deprived families; ensuring gas connections for eight crore houses and building girls’ toilets in schools.

“A male PM guided menstrual hygiene policy,” she said, making the point that solutions to address factors that triggerred child marriages had been found in the past nine years.

“When we ask why girls are not sent to school, we hear ‘who will fetch water, who will care for other siblings, there’s no separate toilet for her at school’. All this stands addressed under the Modi government,” she said.

 

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