Over one in four girls get married in India before they turn 18, says UNICEF report; but there’s a silver lining

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New Delhi | March 06, 2018 5:36 PM

One of the biggest problems that have crippled India in the past is child marriage. Even though the problem still persists in the country, but there is hope that the country may eradicate the menace in coming years.

A recent report from the United Nations Children's Fund or UNICEF has stated that India has shown significant improvement in the last 10 years in the number of girls getting married before the age of 18. (Reuters)A recent report from the United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF has stated that India has shown significant improvement in the last 10 years in the number of girls getting married before the age of 18. (Reuters)
One of the biggest problems that have crippled India in the past is child marriage. Even though the problem still persists in the country, but there is hope that the country may eradicate the menace in coming years. A recent report from the United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF has stated that India has shown significant improvement in the last 10 years in the number of girls getting married before the age of 18.
India witnessed a sharp decline in child marriages in the last ten years. It fell from 47 per cent to 27 per cent of girls getting married before they turn 18. In fact, it is not just India, there has been a global decline in the child marriages. Girls married off as children decreased by 15 per cent in the last 10 years, from 1 in 4 to 1 in 5.
As per the statement issued by the child rights organisation, as many as 25 million child marriages were averted from 2005-06 and 2015-16. Globally, the major reduction in these marriages was seen in South Asia, especially India says UNICEF report.
The UNICEF report lauded the progress in India which helped the rate of child marriages fall from nearly 50 per cent to 30 per cent. The UN children’s agency attributed increasing rates of girls’ education, proactive government investments in adolescent girls and strong public awareness about the illegality of child marriage and the harm it causes are among the reasons for the decline.
UNICEF’s Principal Gender Advisor, Anju Malhotra talked about the lifelong consequences when a girl child is forced to marry. Malhotra said that when a girl is married off as a child, the odds of her finished her education decreases. Malhotra also highlighted the girl child being ‘abused by her husband’ and mentioned ‘complications during pregnancy’.  “There are many societal consequences. Also, there is a risk of intergenerational cycles of poverty,” said Anju Malhotra.

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