It’s the election season in India and many states are going to the polls. Politicians from across the spectrum are hogging the media space with their last-minute campaigning and one-liners. But amidst all the stories of tall claims and promises, accusations and counter-accusations, here is a BJP candidate from Rajasthan who has made a shocking statement.
At a public gathering at Sneh Sammelan at the Peepaliya Kala region, Shobha Chouhan, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Sojat assembly seat said that she would ensure that no legal action is taken against child marriages if she is voted to power.
“We have ‘satta’ [power] and ‘sangathan’ [state government] at our disposal. We won’t let the police intervene in child marriages,” Shobha Chouhan was heard saying in a video that has gone viral, reports India Today.
Incidentally, her statement came in response to the concern over people from Dewasi community facing police action for child marriage. Pali’s Sojat Returning Officer issued a notice to her for violating the election code of conduct. She has been given two days to respond.
Her shocking statements invited backlash from the Opposition leaders:
There were many strong reactions from the public as well:
Child marriage is punishable in India under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. A male adult marrying a child invites imprisonment of up to two years or a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or both.
In March, UNICEF released a report which stated that India has the highest number of child brides in the world. It is estimated that 27 percent of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. According to a recent report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Rajasthan features in the list of top 12 states with the maximum recorded cases of child marriage. In rural areas, 89.4 percent of marriages involve a child while in urban areas it is 10.6 percent.