Ending child marriage only can lead to progress

Child Marriage in india
Child marriage is one of the social evil practised in India since the 19th century. Child marriage of girls is found to be a way out of the desperate economic situation of a poor family in the rural areas. According to a UNICEF report titled 'Ending Child Marriage - Progress and prospects', Child marriage among girls is most common in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and India is among the top 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage. Rise in child marriages in India only demonstrates low economic and social progress in the country.

"South Asia is home to almost half (42 per cent) of all child brides worldwide; India alone accounts for one third of the global total," the report said.

Over 700 million women alive today worldwide were married as children

Infact, over 70 million women living today were married as children or before their 18th birthday, the report adds.

Origin of child marriage

The origin of child marriages in India can be traced back to Muslims invasion that began more than 1000 years ago. It prompted the Hindu communities to marry off their daughter at a very early age to prevent them from getting raped from invaders.

The practise of child marriages in India is also relevant because of the practise of dowry system which creates a fear and pressure to avoid late marriages, and encourages early marriages. The younger the girl, the lesser the amount one has to pay for the dowry. The amount of dowry demanded and given by bride's family has been correlated to the age of the girl.

Impact of girl child marriage

-Effects health, lifetime of disadvantage, deprivation: Girl child marriage severely effects the health of an individual as Young teenage girls are more likely to die due to complications in pregnancy and child birth than women in their 20s. Their infants are more likely to be stillborn or die in the first month of life.

-School dropout, domestic violence: The statistics prove that the dropout rate in school is much higher in case of child marriage and also such girls are victim of domestic violence.

Practise of Female Genital Mutilation a shame:

According to UN report, over 130 million girls and women have experienced Female Genital Mutilation in most of the countries including Africa and Middle east. Such harmful practise at a very young age of girls can have extreme physical and psychological consequences. The girls who undergo FGM are at risk of prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility and death.

The most often cited reason for FGM at a very early age is believed that it promotes female virginity and fidelity. Many communities in Africa believe in such practise to curb pre-marital sex whereas some communities believes that such practise will reduce a woman's sexual desire so that her husband can have many wives.

Child marriages practised abroad

Child marriage has also been practised abroad with countries like Bangladesh, Chad, Mali, Central African Republic, India, Guinea, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Nepal.

Efforts by Government to save girl child

The Government has initiated several measures like Apni Beti, Apna Dhan which is a conditional cash transfer program to delay girls marriages.

The present NDA Government has also announced a list of plans concerning the plight of girl child and women security in the Union Budget. 'Beti Bachao Beti Padao' Yojna is one such scheme to improve the plight of the girl child, which aims to increase awareness and focus on campaigns to sensitise people towards gender equality in India. A total amount of Rs 100 crores has been allotted for the same.

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