Child marriage as an issue is too often brushed off. The amount of awareness around in metro cities makes us believe it is prevalent only in a few states. However, you would be shocked to know that a total of 12 million child marriages have been recorded in the country in a decade.
The data has been recorded looking at the Census data for 2011. Out of this, seven million are boys and five million are girls, who have been married below the legal age of 21 and 18 respectively.
Released on Thursday, this research by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is in the form of a report titled, ‘A Statistical Analysis of Child Marriage in India Based on Census 2011′. The report, which has been made by the government’s top child rights body and the research organisation – Young Lives, has found 70 districts in 13 states where child marriage is most prevalent. A detailed analysis show,
A total of 16 districts in Maharashtra have the highest number of child marriages. Bhandara district of Maharashtra actually shows a five times increase in incidents of child marriages for girls and 20 times for boys in the last decade.
The highest percentage of child marriages among girls (2.5 per cent) take place in Rajasthan, followed by 15 states, namely Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Nagaland, Assam, Maharashtra, Tripura, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Karnataka.The percentage of girls marrying below the legal age were higher than the national average of 1.32 per cent.
Rajasthan is also ahead in the percentage of underage boys being married which is 4.69 per cent while the other mentioned states have percentages ranging between 4.60 per cent to 1.98 per cent.
The Supreme Court Judge A K Sikri said on Thursday that child marriage is a “menace” and only prevalent because the society fails to accept the laws curbing it.
“If a particular person wants to change sex, it is his choice. It must not be denied. Otherwise it curtails his development,” said the SC judge, as quoted by Business Standard.
“It equally applies here (child marriage). It’s the same in child marriage. We can’t curtail one’s right to live by marrying off her at an early age.”
“If a girl child is not given a choice of what she wants to be in her life, it is attacking her dignity. It is violating her human rights,” Justice Sikri said after releasing the report.
The overall report shows that the numbers are decreasing but Bhandara district is an exception.
While the 70 districts where examples of child marriage can be found have about 14% of the entire country’s population and the instance of child marriage amount to 21% of the whole percentage.
“Our ministry’s National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC), 2016, has a goal to reduce prevalence of child marriage for girls to 15 per cent by 2021 in National Family Health Survey (NFHS),” V. Renu Singh, the country director for Young Lives India, said, as reported Indian Express. “It has been seen that the child marriage of the girl affects the education of the boy as he has to drop out to repay the loan taken for the marriage,” said Rakesh Srivastava, secretary with the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
Picture credit- The IndependentBD