India is a fast developing country fighting against social, political and economic evils but still there are some more devilry issues that might not be very much visible. Child marriage is one of the serious social concern that needs special attention. In ancient India child marriage was used as a weapon to protect girls from rapes and abduction by foreign rulers. Though it was ancient practice in India, it is still prevalent in many parts of the country. People must evolve to understand the problem and obliterate the outdated practice of child marriage. India stands second in the highest number of child marriages according to the United Nations. As per the Indian law, any girl married off below the age of 18 and any boy married below the age of 21 is termed as child marriage. But the rules are still violated in rural and backward areas of the country. Almost 45% of Indian girls are wedded even before they attain they age of 18. Marriage is a sacred union with the consent of two matured individuals to share all the responsibilities in life. But child marriage is a social evil and its eradication is a laborious task. Child marriage has an effect on other social issues such as quality education, gender equality, access to quality healthcare etc. Girls are most affected in child marriages because of poor socio-economic conditions.
CAUSES OF CHILD MARRIAGE
- Low status of women in society.
- Financial inability of the family to take care of members. Because of this, they force their girls into marriage.
- Many families do not wish to invest on their girl’s education with poor finance. Thus, many girls are illiterate and are then married to adult men.
- Child marriage is considered as a tradition and is thus carried on for generations.
- Gender inequality.
PROBLEMS/EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE
- Responsibility- Young children are given a load of responsibilities after marriage that they will not be able to manage. There will be no one to help them out or guide them in their chores.
- Teenage life- They lose their fun and freedom that they are supposed to enjoy. This affects their overall growth and turn up to be irresponsible citizens.
- Early pregnancy related complications- Child marriage can lead to early pregnancy which gives rise to a lot of complications. It is due to the incomplete development of the reproductive organs. These complications are not good for both mother and baby. Some girls even die after giving birth.
- Inability to manage family- The young girls have less abilities to run a family, take of children, managing health and household.
- Fall in high fertility age group- When a girl is married at an early age, she normally tends to have more children and unwanted pregnancy. Lack of access to modern medical facilities to avoid or postpone pregnancy, women are forced to have pregnancy and carry the child.
As per the reports of Child Rights and You (CRY), there has been a 40% increase in the child marriages in May 2020 in India during the COVID 19. The government has brought in a lot of schemes such as “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” and “Balika Samriddhi Yojana” ensuring the survival and protection of girl child. Thus, empowering girl child and providing financial aid to them can provide a solution to child marriage.