Child marriage is a huge problem in India, affecting the livelihoods of thousands of children, whilst also being a huge drain on the economy of India as a whole. Despite the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, child marriage still remains a massive issue. According to Girls Not Brides, an estimated 47% of girls are married before the age of 18.
Child marriage must be tackled in order to improve the livelihoods of the 47% of girls who get married before 18. Child marriage increases the likelihood that girls will become pregnant at an early age, with a UNICEF report from 2012 concluding that in the same year, one in six girls aged 15-19 had already given birth to their first child. At such a young age, girls are more likely to contract illnesses and complications and globally, childbirth is consistently cited as the leading cause of death for women aged 15-19.
Furthermore, child marriage also has a direct impact on whether or not a girl goes to school. Many children drop out of school when they are about to get married, and so they miss out on the full benefits of a rounded education. Because of this lack of education, married girls are also limited in their inability to earn as much money than they could have, if they had stayed in school. In turn, this affects the wider Indian economy, with the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) stating that ‘India loses $56 billion USD a year in potential earnings because of adolescent pregnancy, high secondary school dropout rates, and joblessness among young women’. Not only is the health of young girls at risk, but also their education and earning potential.
Child marriage is something that everyone should be concerned with ending. The barrier of child marriage too often prevents girls, people’s daughters, sisters and mothers, from having a healthy and fulfilled life. There are many ways that this can be done. In the past decade, the child marriage rate has improved, arguably due to a drive from the government in the form of legislation and increased awareness and campaigns. The New Delhi Times recently reported that according to the 2015-16 ‘National Family Health Survey’ Haryana has ‘witnessed considerable improvement with around 19% women getting married before the reaching the 18-year mark, as compared to almost 40% women during the 2005-06 survey’.The 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act was a good start, but it is now paramount that there is grassroots action which directly targets vulnerable girls, educating them so that they are aware of the many ways in which their lives could be negatively affected, should they enter into a child marriage.
At H.E.E.A.L.S we have started an Anti-child marriage campaign to raise awareness of the negative impacts on women. as we recognise how child marriage can so drastically affect young girls and their empowerment. This campaign will be primarily delivered through workshops! Like our Facebook, Twitter and follow our blog in order to keep up to date with the developments of our latest campaign!
Info graphic :Minnie
Girls Not Brides
New Delhi Times Article referenced here :
UNICEF Report, 2012 referenced by the ICRW