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India Home to Maximum Child Brides: Survey

India's rape law, Section 375 of the IPC

India has been notorious for its high incidences of child marriages. An ActionAid India report released by actor-activist Shabana Azmi titled Eliminating Child Marriage in India: Progress and Prospects reveals some more shocking details about the conundrum of child marriages in the country. It is based on the analysis of the data from the Census 2011 and other sample surveys.

According to the report, India is home to nearly 103 million Indians who are married before they were 18.

If we cannot eliminate child marriages, it will become a huge hindrance to India’s economic prospects in the form of unhealthy and unskilled workforce. The more skilled workforce alone can contribute to a GDP 1.7 per cent. – Srinivas Goli

Other important details of the report:

  1. India contributes 33 per cent of the total number of child brides in the world with an estimated 85.2 million of the 103 million who are girls.
  2. Of every 28 girl child marriages occurring per minute in the world, more than two takes place in India.
  3. Curbing of girl child marriages can thwart 27,000 neonatal deaths, 55,000 infant deaths and 1,60,000 child deaths.
  4. The number of child marriages is more than the total population of Philippines (100 million) and Germany (80.68 million).
  5.  Rural regions account for 75 per cent of all instances of child marriages.
  6. Seven states (Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh) account for 70 per cent of child marriages in the country.

Read Also: Data Watch: Comprehending the Risks of Child Marriage

Shabana Azmi tells HT,“Patriarchy is at the root of child marriage, and patriarchy has to be tackled completely to eliminate child marriage. Spreading education and building confidence amongst girls enables them to resist child marriage and chart their own lives.”

She blamed Indian textbooks for perpetuating gender stereotypes and sexism in young minds.

“Even in textbooks, where is the father? Father is in the office. Where is the mother? She is in the kitchen. Why can’t mother and father both be in the office and be in the kitchen? We need to see with a magnifying glass what is being taught to our children.”

India needs to realise that child marriage is not just a human rights or gender issue. It is a huge demographic, health, education and economic issue.

According to Srinivas Goli, assistant professor, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University and author of the report, child marriage needs to be looked at as an economic issue.

“India needs to realise that child marriage is not just a human rights or gender issue. It is a huge demographic, health, education and economic issue. If we cannot eliminate child marriages, it will become a huge hindrance to India’s economic prospects in the form of unhealthy and unskilled workforce. The more skilled workforce alone can contribute to a GDP 1.7 per cent,” Goli told PTI.

The report clearly indicates that child marriage and other concomitant issues need to be tackled for the general well-being of Indian women and children. The report is based on the analysis of the data from the Census 2011 and other sample surveys.

Read Also: Survey Reveals, Despite a Decline Child Marriages Still Remain Common