- Child marriage is a social issue that affects many countries around the world, including India. Here are some facts and figures about the prevalence of child marriage in India:
- According to UNICEF, India has the highest number of child brides in the world. It is estimated that 27% of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday.
- The prevalence of child marriage varies widely across different states in India. In states like Rajasthan and Bihar, more than half of all girls are married before the age of 18.
- The practice of child marriage is more common in rural areas than in urban areas. In rural areas, 29% of girls are married before the age of 18, compared to 15% in urban areas.
- Poverty is a major driver of child marriage in India. Families living in poverty may marry off their daughters at a young age as a way to reduce the financial burden of raising them.
- Girls who are married at a young age are more likely to drop out of school and have limited access to education. This can perpetuate the cycle of poverty and limit their future opportunities.
- Child marriage can have serious health consequences for girls, including complications during pregnancy and childbirth, which can lead to maternal mortality.
- While the legal age of marriage in India is 18 for women and 21 for men, child marriage is still prevalent due to lack of enforcement of the law.
- Efforts to end child marriage in India have been ongoing, including campaigns to raise awareness about the negative impacts of child marriage, increasing access to education and economic opportunities for girls, and strengthening the enforcement of laws related to child marriage. However, progress has been slow and there is still much work to be done to end this harmful practice.
Factors leading to Child Marriages in India
In India, child marriage is a common practice, despite being illegal under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. The following are the factors that contribute to the prevalence of child marriage in India:
Poverty is one of the primary factors contributing to child marriage in India. Families living in poverty often see their daughters as a financial burden and believe that marrying them off early will relieve them of that burden. According to a report by UNICEF, 27% of girls in India are married off before the age of 18, and the percentage is higher in poorer households.
Social norms and cultural beliefs:
In many parts of India, social norms and cultural beliefs dictate that girls should be married off at a young age. The belief that girls are a liability, and their role is to get married and have children perpetuates child marriage. In some communities, child marriage is seen as a way to preserve the purity of a girl and protect her from the dangers of premarital sex. A report by Girls Not Brides states that child marriage is deeply rooted in Indian culture and traditions.
Lack of education:
The lack of education, especially for girls, is another factor contributing to child marriage in India. Girls who are not educated are seen as less valuable and are often married off early. According to a report by UNESCO, India has the highest number of child brides who are out of school. Girls who drop out of school early are more likely to be married off early.
Gender inequality is another factor contributing to child marriage in India. Girls are often seen as less valuable than boys and are married off early to ensure their safety and protection. The belief that girls should be married off early to protect them from sexual assault or harassment is common in many parts of India.
Lack of awareness:
Lack of awareness among families and communities about the negative effects of child marriage also contributes to its prevalence. Many families are not aware of the long-term consequences of child marriage, such as increased risk of maternal mortality, domestic violence, and poverty.
Interlinkages between Child Marriage and Poverty
In India, poverty and child marriage are interlinked, with poverty being one of the primary factors contributing to the prevalence of child marriages.
Poverty often leads families to view their daughters as a financial burden and marrying them off at a young age is seen as a way to reduce their financial burden. Girls are often seen as an economic liability as they require significant financial resources for their education, health, and other basic needs. Moreover, in some cases, parents feel that marriage will provide security for their daughters, particularly in families where there is a lack of social or financial support.
Child marriage, in turn, perpetuates poverty as it often deprives girls of education and training, which limits their economic opportunities and leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Studies have shown that women who marry early are more likely to drop out of school, have limited employment opportunities, and have limited decision-making power within the household, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
Furthermore, child marriage often leads to early and frequent pregnancies, which can lead to complications during childbirth and negatively impact the health of both the mother and child. This can result in increased healthcare costs and reduced productivity, further perpetuating poverty.
Efforts to reduce poverty, increase access to education, and promote gender equality are crucial to reducing the prevalence of child marriage in India. Additionally, programs aimed at increasing awareness about the negative impacts of child marriage and empowering girls to make decisions about their own lives can help break the cycle of poverty and child marriage.
Impact of Child Marriage on Indian Economy
Child marriage has a significant impact on the Indian economy, both in the short and long term. Here are some ways in which child marriage affects the economy:
- Reduced productivity: Child marriage often leads to the premature exit of girls from education and the workforce. This results in reduced productivity, both at the individual and national level. According to a report by the World Bank, the economic cost of child marriage in terms of lost productivity and earnings was estimated to be $63 billion in 2017.
- Health costs: Child marriage often results in early pregnancies and childbirth, which can have serious health consequences for both the mother and child. This leads to increased healthcare costs, which are often borne by the government.
- Impact on education: Child marriage often leads to girls dropping out of school early, which results in reduced educational attainment and lower earnings in the future. According to a report by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), delaying child marriage could increase girls’ educational attainment and result in higher earnings, which could contribute to a 1.7% increase in India’s GDP.
- Cycle of poverty: Child marriage often perpetuates the cycle of poverty, as girls who marry early are more likely to have children at a young age and face increased economic insecurity. This results in lower levels of investment in education and health, and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.
Certain Initiatives by GOI
|The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006||This act makes child marriage illegal in India and provides for punishment for those who perform, promote, or facilitate such marriages.||As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2015-16, the percentage of women aged 20-24 years who were married before the age of 18 was 26.8%. This is a decline from 47.4% in 2005-06, indicating that the law has had some impact in reducing child marriages.|
|Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao||This is a government campaign aimed at improving the welfare of girls and promoting their education. The campaign also aims to raise awareness about the harms of child marriage.||As per the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the sex ratio at birth has improved from 918 in 2014-15 to 929 in 2019-20, indicating a positive impact of the campaign.|
|Scheme for Adolescent Girls||This scheme provides for the nutrition, health, and education of adolescent girls, and also aims to prevent child marriages.||As per the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the scheme has covered over 8.5 million adolescent girls across 315 districts in India.|
|Kanyashree Prakalpa||This is a scheme implemented in West Bengal that provides financial assistance to girls to encourage their education and delay marriage.||As per the West Bengal government, the scheme has benefited over 5 million girls since its launch in 2013, and has contributed to a decline in child marriages in the state.|
|Mahila Police Volunteers||This is a scheme that trains women to act as a link between the police and the community, and aims to address crimes against women and girls, including child marriages.||As per the Ministry of Home Affairs, over 1,000 Mahila Police Volunteers have been deployed across 12 states in India.|
Measures Needed To Prevent Child Marriages
- Education: Education is the key to preventing child marriages. Girls who receive education are less likely to get married at a young age. Therefore, there is a need to promote education for girls and ensure that they have access to quality education.
- Awareness campaigns: There is a need to raise awareness about the negative impacts of child marriages on the health, education, and overall well-being of girls. Community-level awareness campaigns, involving parents, religious leaders, and other stakeholders, can be effective in preventing child marriages.
- Economic empowerment: Girls from poor families are more likely to be married off at a young age due to financial constraints. Therefore, there is a need to provide economic opportunities to families to ensure that they do not see their daughters as a financial burden.
- Legal enforcement: The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, makes child marriage illegal in India. However, the law needs to be strictly enforced, and those who perform, promote, or facilitate such marriages should be punished.
- Support systems for girls: Girls who are at risk of child marriage should be provided with support systems to help them resist pressure from their families and communities. This could include counseling, shelter homes, and other forms of support.
- Strengthening child protection systems: There is a need to strengthen child protection systems to ensure that girls are not forced into marriages against their will. This could include training for child protection officers, setting up child protection committees at the community level, and ensuring that child protection laws are effectively implemented.
1. Where can I find data on child marriage in India?
You can find data on child marriage in India from various sources, including government reports, NGOs, and international organizations like UNICEF and UNFPA. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and Census data also provide statistics on child marriage in India.
2. What were the child marriage statistics for India in 2020?
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, I do not have access to specific statistics for 2020. Child marriage statistics may vary from year to year, and it’s essential to consult the latest reports and data sources to obtain accurate and up-to-date information on child marriage in India.
3. Can you recommend an article about child marriage in India?
I’m unable to provide specific articles or sources since my knowledge is based on information available up to September 2021. However, you can search for articles on child marriage in India using reputable news websites, academic journals, or publications from organizations focused on child rights and gender equality.
4. What are the child marriage laws in India?
In India, child marriage is governed by several laws and regulations, including:
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006: This central law sets the minimum age for marriage as 18 for females and 21 for males, with penalties for those who promote, solemnize, or participate in child marriages.
- The Indian Penal Code (IPC): Sections 375 and 376B of the IPC address sexual offenses related to child marriage.
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012: This law provides protection to children against sexual offenses, including those within child marriages.
5. What is the Child Marriage Act in India?
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 is often referred to as the Child Marriage Act in India. It is a legal framework aimed at preventing child marriages and protecting the rights of children. This act sets the legal age for marriage and outlines penalties for those involved in child marriages, including parents, guardians, and priests who solemnize such marriages.
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