Definition of Child Marriage by UNICEF – UNICEF defines child marriage as” marriage before 18 years of age” and considers this practice as a violation of human rights.
Most of us watch ‘Balika Vadu’, a TV soap based on the concept of child marriage in villages of Rajasthan and condemn this act from the bottom of ourheart. Though this is the story based on just one state but there are many states in India where child marriage is a common practice. In child marriage or Bal Vivah, most girls get married below the age of 18, some below the age of 15 and some even when they are just 3 months old. Though child marriage is illegal in India, but still it is part of Indian society and out of all child marriages across the world 40% are solemnized in India. States of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have the highest rate of child marriage in India.
The practice of child marriage started in medieval India, due to authoritarian rulers. To lower the status of women, child marriage came into existence. People started giving various illogical reasons to justify this act. Another reason to practice child marriage is to deepen the alliances between royal families in India as children were considered under the influence of their parents when they are young, but may choose their own life partner once grown up. Then for the continuation of caste system in India, child marriage was practised Also foreign rulers used to rape Indian women so to protect them, their parents used to marry them when they were still infants. Poor parents sometimes used to marry their young daughters to elder men for money etc. Which so ever may be the reason but this practice had deteriorated the status of female right from her birth.
- First of all, such an act is the violation of human rights as young girls have to bear a lot.
- Many early maternal deaths have been reported in these cases.
- Then, as body of young girl is not prepared for pregnancy, so pregnancy-related deaths are common among these marriages.
- Mothers who are less than 18 years of age gives birth to weak infants who have great chances to die or they may suffer from malnourishment, cognitive development or grow into weak adults.
- Domestic as well as sexual violence is another issue which these young girls have to bear and they are more prone to such violence as compared to older women.
- Then these girls have to leave their education as well as childhood in between owing to their early marriage and their in laws are least bothered about their education.
As per UN Body, Bihar has the highest percentage of child marriages in India i.e 60%, whereas percentage of child marriage in Goa, Manipur and Kerala is 11%, 13% and 15% respectively. Further the data clarifies that rate of child marriage of girls below the age of 15 is declining double than of 18 years old girl. Though this is a very good sign but still there is a gap between education, and other rights which have to be delivered to these girls.
Child marriage is a matter of great concern and must be tackled with sincerity. Marriage at such a tender age is not a solution to women related crime. Child marriage on the other hand results in number of other problems. Parents must educate their girl child so that she can progress in her life and support her family whenever required. There should be a mass level awareness campaigns to solve the problem. Do not treat a girl child as a burden but respect her and raise her with respect and dignity.
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