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Child Empowerment and Individual Choice: An analysis of the Indian law with the help of Nussbaum’s Capabilities approach
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

More than half of all the girls in India today are married before the age of 18. This derives from gender inequality and discrimination, which has lead to several health issues. At the same time, the Indian state has passed legislation prohibiting the practice of child marriage and made it possible for girls to void their marriages. The law gives the girls more empowerment even if they are minor, which poses some further issues related to age, consent and substantial freedom. The contradiction in the law’s implementation depends on a disparity between the state and customary laws as well as modern versus traditional norms. With the help of Martha Nussbaum’s Capabilities approach, this study tries to understand the law prohibiting child marriage in India and its restrictions, focusing on girl child empowerment and individual choice. The findings show the limitations in the law in regards to parental consent and children’s rights against their parents. The reason why theories like ours, promoting universal norms should be justified, is contingent on the belief that child marriages are harmful to girls’ health. This is furthermore knowledge that should be taught through education for children and adults, which then might alter the gender inequalities developed within the realms of social customs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Child marriage, Individual choice, Child empowerment, Universal norms versus Traditional norms, India, Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-254247OAI: diva2:817696
Subject / course
Human Rights
Educational program
Master Programme in Human Rights
2015-06-01, Uppsala, 16:54 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-06-11 Created: 2015-06-05 Last updated: 2015-06-11Bibliographically approved

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