(Hindu Child Marriage Bill) to a select committee of 10 headed by Sir
Moropant Visavanath Joshi. The All India Women’s Conference,
Women’s India Association and National Council of Women in India,
through their members developed and articulated the argument in favour
of raising of the age for marriage and consent before the Joshi Committee.
    Even the Muslim women represented to the Joshi Committee. The
Muslim women presented their views in favour of raising the age limit of
marriage even when they knew that they would face opposition from
Muslim Ulema. Pro-reform politicians, such as Motilal Nehru, were
caught off guard when the organized women’s association met with
leaders to ask for their support in the bill. The all-India women’s
association pressured politicians for their support in the bill, standing
outside their delegations holding placards and shouting slogans such as ‘if
you oppose Sharda’s bill, the world will laugh at you’. It was also this
group who pushed for, and eventually succeeded in having Gandhi address
the evils of child marriage in his speeches. Victory for the bill can be
credited to the women’s associations, who presented the act as a means for
India to demonstrate it’s commitment to modernity.
    Women in India were now challenging the double standards set in
place by ancient shastras. Declaring they would begin to make their own
laws, free of male influence, the women’s organizations brought liberal
feminism to the forefront. Although this is a victory for the women’s
movement in India, the act itself was a complete failure. In the two years
and five months it was an active bill, there were 473 prosecutions, of
which only 167 were successful. The list goes on with 207 acquittals, with
98 cases still pending during August 1932. Out of the 167 successful
prosecutions, only 17 or so did either all of or part of their sentence. The
majority of cases were in Punjab and the United Provinces.
    A 1931 census was available to the public during the summer of 1933
in order to give a status report of how the bill was doing: the number of
wives under 15 had increased from 8.5 million to 12 million, but the
number of husbands under the age of fifteen had gone from 3 to more than
5 million. The number of wives under the age of five had quadrupled
(originally the numbers were about 218,500, which then shot up to
802,200). The percentage of