Indian TV soap cancelled after protests over child marriage storyline

Pehredar Piya Ki 1
A petition urged the government to ban the show, which featured a married boy of 10 (Twitter)

Child marriage, Girls' education, Right to education

The show - that featured a 10-year-old boy married to an older woman - has been taken off the air after the government asked for its content to be reviewed.

An Indian television soap opera that shows a 10-year-old boy married to a 19-year-old woman has been pulled off air following protests from viewers who said it glorified child marriage.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said it had asked for a review of the show by an independent broadcasting authority after it received a petition questioning the influence the soap would have on viewers.

“There were numerous complaints about the content of the show and we sent it for review,” said an official in the ministry, requesting anonymity.

“The show was pushed to a late-night slot with a disclaimer first and has now been taken off air.”

Child marriage in India

  • Almost a third of the child brides in the world are in India
  • There are an average of 150 child marriages every minute in India
  • Ending child marriage could avoid 55,000 infant deaths

Source: ActionAid India

The last episode of the show Pehredar Piya Ki (“Husband’s Guard”) was aired on Friday, ending weeks of controversy over its portrayal of child marriage, which though illegal remains widespread in many parts of the country.

The legal age for marriage in India is 18 for women and 21 for men.

India has been cracking down on child marriage and campaigners said such portrayals in the media could dent progress.

The show, which went on air in July, prompted a petition urging Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani to ban it. The petition garnered nearly 50,000 signatures, just 48 hours after its launch.

The petitioner Mansi Jain questioned the influence the soap would have and said it showed the child perform marriage rituals such as putting vermillion on the older actor playing his wife.

In a statement issued on Monday, Sony Entertainment Television – a popular Hindi-language general entertainment channel in India – said it had pulled the programme off air.

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