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Child Marriages

Diksha Sharma 5 MINUTES

The total number of girls married in childhood stands at 12 million per year. 

  • Across the globe, levels of child marriage are highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where 35 per cent of young women were married before age 18, followed by South Asia, where nearly 30 per cent were married before age 18. 
  • Lower levels of child marriage are found in Latin America and Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Concerns associated with child marriages

  • Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights
  • While the practice is more common among girls than boys, it is a violation of rights regardless of sex. 
  • Child marriage often compromises a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling and limiting her opportunities for career and vocational advancement. 
  • Child marriage robs girls of their childhood and threatens their lives and health. Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence and less likely to remain in school. 
  • Child brides often become pregnant during adolescence, when the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth increases – for themselves and their infants. 
  • it imposes substantial economic costs at the national level, too, with major implications for development and prosperity. 
  • Without further acceleration, more than 120 million additional girls will marry before their 18th birthday by 2030.

Reasons for increasing cases of child marriages

Many factors interact to place a child at risk of marriage, including poverty, the perception that marriage will provide ‘protection’, family honor, social norms, customary or religious laws that condone the practice, an inadequate legislative framework and the state of a country’s civil registration system. 

Laws to prevent child marriages in India

  • The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 to restrict the practice of child marriage. 

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 to address and fix the shortcomings of the Child Marriage Restraint Act.