Love, Labour and Law: Early and Child Marriage in India is a path-breaking book on an issue that has not been analysed in depth for a while, perhaps since it does not affect the elite. Today, the child brides are usually from poor families. They are of 1517 years as compared to much younger brides in the earlier times. The book discusses why child marriages persist despite numerous legislative and policy initiatives to eliminate the practice. The chapters examine social and legal reforms to raise the age of marriage; contemporary education and health-related policy attempts at prevention; relationship of child marriage with child labour, sex work, human trafficking and other issues. Increasingly, there is greater resistance to marriages arranged by parents from the child brides themselves who can now access institutional and bureaucratic support. How hopeful are these developments? The book goes beyond a simple policy focus on elimination and provides a much-needed understanding of marriage and womens agency within the context of the Indian marriage system.
AT PRESENT, SCHOLARSHIP on child marriage or early marriage, as the case seems to be, in India is very uneven. This has become more evident in the context of the global push against child marriage in the past decade or so. Despite the importance given to child marriage as a social ‘problem’ since the early nineteenth century, and an efflorescence of didactic and creative writing in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the issue appears to have quietly moved from a controversial social issue into a consensus development agenda. The country's legislative activity in the 1970s and 1980s reflected this shift. The discussion on child marriage became a matter of policy design rather than public debate. This shift is related, we suggest, to ...