London, March 10 (ANI): Despite India's law giving 18 as the minimum age for marriage, a large proportion of children - particularly girls - are still married off at an early age, imposing higher risks of unwanted pregnancies and female sterilization, concludes a new study.
According to lead author Anita Raj, PhD, and her colleagues from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), despite the government's efforts to put an end to child marriage, almost half of adult Indian women, between the age bracket of 20 to 24, were wed before the legal age of 18.
The study observed child marriages significantly fuelled multiple threats such as unwanted pregnancies, abortions, repeat childbirths in less than 2 years and augmented sterilization rates.
Boffins discovered that 44.5 percent of women between 22 to 24 years were married before they turned 18, out of which 22.6 percent were wed before age 16 as 2.6 percent were married before age 13.
It was further revealed that 48.4 percent of those married as kids reported becoming mothers before they turned 18 and were more likely to have had three or more childbirths, as compared to those wed as adults.
Sterilization rates were also found to be on the higher side for women wed as kids than for those wed as adults, with 19.5 percent having been sterilized as compared to other 4.6 percent.
The research found that more than three-quarters of those who remained at bay from sterilization reported no present contraception use.
The authors stressed upon "the crucial need for increased family-planning interventions tailored to married adolescents."
"The prevalence of child marriage remains unacceptably high," the Lancet quoted Dr. Raj and colleagues as saying.
"These results suggest that neither recent progress in economic and women's development, nor existing policy or programmatic efforts to prevent child marriage and promote maternal and child health, have been sufficient to reduce the prevalence of child marriage in India to that of most other developing nations," they added.(ANI)