Life was hard to different degrees for everyone yes, but forcing a kid into basically lifelong bonded labour was still exceptional even in those days. 9 years man, a class 3 kid. I was switching from pencil to pen in class 3.
Fact also is that young marriage leads to higher infant and mother mortality rate. There haven't been any psychological studies on child brides but I can't imagine it's too good either, it should have similar impact to childhood sexual abuse.
I'm not blaming anyone but a historical fact is a historical fact and it does give ammo to women, just as people like Aurangzeb give ammo to Hindu nationalists. In modern political discourse the trump card is victimhood.
I'm not saying force equal results, I'm saying treat everyone equally. The superior groups will rise to the top on their own merit, social equilibrium will be maintained if your society currently is perfectly balanced. Do away with reservations but don't start reservations for UCs as our ancestors did, it led to the degeneration of our elites. One of the markers for Kali Yuga is that anyone who wears a sacred thread will start being considered a Brahmin.
>Widening gender divide
Meme. The only concrete example I have seen is the prohibition issue in certain states, ones not known for liberalism mostly. A few hundred women in big Unis are demographically insignificant.
Only an issue because of the organized ones, before that during our Golden Age we had several religions and they coexisted in mutual harmony for the most part. Treating everyone equally would have prevented the creation of Buddhism, mostly propped up by aspirant Vaishyas and followed by disillusioned Shudras.