child marriage

The highest number of cases were registered in Tamil Nadu (55), followed by Karnataka at 51. Other states witnessing high number of cases of child marriages were West Bengal (41), Assam (23), Telangana (19), Andhra Pradesh (19), Maharashtra (16), Haryana (14), Gujarat (12). Even Puducherry, which had zero reports of child marriage cases in 2014 and 2015 registered 5 in 2016.

Many brides find themselves alone after getting married. There’s no work to be found in the small villages, so young men often seek their fortune across the giant country. Their wives move in with the in-laws and the newlyweds stay in touch via phone.

“What do you expect a kid who’s 15 to understand about marriage or relationships or managing a house?” asks Khandelwal. “They’re not educated, and that trickles down to their own kids. They already don’t have money, and they’re already too young to have kids. It’s a vicious cycle. Will they ever be able to come out of this?”

After two and a half years spent photographing the child brides of Shravasti, Khandelwal sees signs of young girls forced into marriage across the country, even in the metropolis of New Delhi. She plans to turn her camera’s lens on these communities to show how the practice may be illegal and declining, but in India it’s still flourishing on the sidelines.

she expected tradition and patriarchy to dominate each family’s decision to marry off their daughters. What she found was a practice also rooted in poverty, a lack of education, and the volatility of life.

The interplay of many social, economic and religious factors is responsible for child marriage. Many prefer child or early marriage so that the couple bears the highest number of children possible. In communities with poor law and order enforcement, girl child marriage is seen as a solution to protect the ‘honour’ of the girl child, and as a form of ‘protection’ against rape and kidnapping. So entrenched these customs have become that they continue even after the recent improvement of law and order. This can end faulty belief systems, like early marriage and sex-selective abortion. As per the World Bank, educated, healthy women can “engage in productive activities, find formal sector.