Child Marriage in India
In Rajasthan, India, child marriage is a tradition. But, the practice isn’t limited only to the one northwestern state; while child marriage is a global issue, India has the highest number of child brides in the world. While over the last decade, India has witnessed one of the largest declines in child marriage rates, it is estimated that 27% (down from 50%) of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. Arvind Ojha with Urmul Trust and one of the founding members of Girls Not Brides talks to us about how child marriage specifically impacts young girls in India.
Child marriage can add to a myriad of negative outcomes for the girl and her family. Once girls are married, they are not expected to attend school anymore. Isolating them in a household away from their peers, education, and family can cause a girl to feel disempowered. With promises of dowry or having one less child to take care of at home, families often think that marrying their children will be a solution to poverty. In actuality, child marriage can often perpetuate cycles of poverty, as it leads girls to drop out of school and forgo their education and professional growth. India has an extremely high infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate, and child marriage can lend to that problem. Young girls are physically not capable of bearing children, and pregnancy and childbirth can cause dangerous complications. Child brides also face increased rates of domestic violence.
Bringing attention to the issue of child marriage means we can work towards a society that values and respects young girls so that their education, work opportunities, families, friends, and personal growth are the top priority. And while India has witnessed the largest decline in child marriage rates of over the last decade, there is still much work to be done.