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Defining Girlhood in IndiaA Transnational History of Sexual Maturity Laws$
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Ashwini Tambe

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042720

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042720.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Early Marriage as Slavery

Early Marriage as Slavery

UN Interventions, 1948–1965

(p.85) 4 Early Marriage as Slavery
Defining Girlhood in India

Ashwini Tambe

University of Illinois Press

Chapter 4 returns to the intergovernmental arena to examine another effort to harmonize a common age of consent: a UN-led universal age of marriage. It documents how the trajectory of UN interest in setting a common age in the 1950s and 1960s was shaped by another commitment, that of abolishing slavery. In particular, it shows that antislavery discourse was mobilized in the context of geopolitical hierarchies: the focus on child marriage turned the discussion of slavery away from the United Kingdom, United States, and European states, which had historically been the principal perpetrators of the transatlantic slave trade, to former colonies. In displacing the gaze away from the British slave trade to newly independent states, the UN discourse on marriage shifted moral responsibility for enslavement from historically culpable nations to many of those oppressed by them. An imperial logic thus informed efforts to raise the age of marriage. Indian delegates played an obstructionist role throughout the process, claiming it compromised the power of parents. Ultimately, India refused to sign the 1962 Convention on Minimum Age of Marriage.

Keywords:   age of marriage, antislavery advocacy, child marriage, postwar abolitionism

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