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child marriage

Why in the news?

The Steering Committee of the Global Program to End Child Marriage is visiting India to look at state interventions that have helped reduce the prevalence of child marriage. The visit is in view of the projected increase in the number of child marriages due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Child marriage in India

In India, child marriage declined from 47.4% in 2005-06 to 26.8% in 2015-16.

⚫ Over the past five years, it has declined by 3.5% points to 23.3% in 2020-21, according to the latest National Family Health Survey-5 data.

The overall prevalence of child marriage is trending downward, but 23.3% is still an alarmingly high percentage in a country with a population of 141.2 crore.

 

According to NFHS data, child marriage rates are higher in eight states than the national average in West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura, with more than 40% of women aged 20-24 married below 18.

  • Some states have shown a decline in child marriages like Madhya Pradesh

          (32.4% in 2015-16 to 23.1% in 2020-21), Rajasthan (35.4% to 25.4%) and Haryana.

  • According to UNICEF data, the total number of girls married as children is 12 million every year.

Goal 5 of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals aims to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Legal intervention in India

  • There are several laws, including the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012, which aim to protect children from human and other rights violations.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks to raise the age of marriage for women from the current 18 years to 21 years.

Why should the minimum age of marriage be raised for women?

  1. Lack of access to education and employment:

⚫ Women face inequality when it comes to access to education and employment as a result of their early marriages.

It is often the case that women are deprived of education and economic means of livelihood after entering the institution of marriage at an early age.

  • Raising the minimum age for marriage will lead to more women pursuing higher education and opting for employment.
  1. Impact of early marriage on health of women and children:
  • Younger age of marriage and consequently early pregnancy has a significant impact on the overall health and mental well-being of mothers and their children along with their nutritional levels.
  • Adolescent mothers are at greater risk of reproductive health challenges, malnutrition, postpartum hemorrhage, and susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases.

Schemes/policies to prevent girl child marriage

  1. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) – The Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY), was launched in 2015 to promote the welfare of girls. It encourages parents to invest and create funds for future studies and marriage expenses of girl children.

 

  1. Balika Samriddhi Yojana – Balika Samriddhi Yojana is another central government scheme to support girls from economically weaker sections of the society. The scheme ensures enrollment and retention of girls in primary and secondary schools. It aims at the prosperity of the girl child and provides them with better quality education.

 

  1. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao – Among all other girl child welfare schemes, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao is the most popular. The scheme celebrates the girl child, which literally translates to Save the Girl, Educate the Girl. She believes in empowering women and creating an inclusive ecosystem for them. The scheme aims to promote the safety of girl children before and after birth.
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