The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Prevention of Child Marriage Bill, 2004 by voice vote after the Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury pointed out that the girl child has become an “endangered species” and we are in a state akin to “emergency”.
Replying to a debate on the Bill, she said “We must introspect into our own conscience on the atrocities committed on girls.”
Chowdhury said in the last 20 years one crore girls had been killed. The minister lamented the fact that more than 6 per cent of girls were married before 18 in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Parliament also passed a bill empowering the Women and Child Development Ministry to constitute a Commission for Child Rights. The Commission for Protection of Child Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2006 that was earlier approved by the Lok Sabha was passed in the Rajya Sabha without discussion.
Replying to the debate on the Prevention of Child Marriage Bill, 2004, Chowdhury said the government is soon going to come up with the “Palna” scheme to curb female infanticide which will urge people not to “kill girl child” as government would take care of her.
Terming child marriage an obscenity, she said the purpose of the Bill was to prohibit such marriages. Members speaking during the debate raised doubts over what could be achieved by just passing such a legislation. Some feared it might actually make the situation worse.