India

BJP Legislator believes child marriage will ‘stop elopement, love Jihad’

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A BJP Legislator from Madhya Pradesh has said that child marriage is a solution to elopement and ‘love jihad’.

Talking to the Indian Express, Gopal Parmar, BJP MLA from Agar, said that child marriages used to last forever.

“Earlier girls and boys used to marry before they turned 18 and 21. Marriages were fixed when they used to be of tender age, and did not go astray…or (they did not) think of anyone else. Now they meet at coaching classes and some fall prey to vices like ‘love jihad’.”

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Linking late marriages to “love jihad” — a term used by Hindutva forces for marriages between Hindu women and Muslim men — the BJP leader said girls are “emotional” and that they “get carried away” when someone offers to help them by changing name and identity. “I married as a child, and I ensured that marriages of my children — two daughters and a son — were fixed before they attained the legal age of marriage,” Parmar, 53, said. “They are all happy.”

Parmar said that there was no concept of divorces when child marriages were practiced.

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“The groom and bride used to be unfamiliar with each other, but marriages would work because parents used to apply their mind and fix marriages between compatible children.”

Drawing a parallel between tethered cattle and children, he said, “Once the marriage is fixed, they know where to return.’’ Parmar said he would not make a recommendation in writing to the government to lower the legal age of marriage but expects parents to fix marriage of their children much before so that they do not go astray.

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