Child Marriages are still prevalent in India, and in many other countries too. Understandably, it is widely considered a violation of human life.
In India, it is practiced mainly due to a lack of awareness among the uneducated public, and obsolete traditions in villages.
What is child marriage?
In India, as per law, girls can get married after the age of eighteen. A bill has been submitted to increase this age to 21. If she is getting married below this age, then it is child marriage and is a punishable offense. The responsible family will be imprisoned for two years and a fine amounting to up to One lakh can be imposed.
Some of the main reasons for the continuation of this social ritual:
Poverty: In some communities, parents may view marrying off their daughters at a young age as a way to alleviate their financial burden. By marrying off their daughters, they may see it as one less mouth to feed.
Cultural and traditional beliefs: Some cultures and religions have deep-rooted beliefs and traditions that support child marriage. In some societies, marrying off girls at a young age is seen as a way to preserve family honor, maintain the purity, or ensure the girl is married before puberty.
Lack of education: Girls who are not educated may not have the opportunity to understand their rights or gain the skills to provide for themselves, making marriage seem like a way to ensure their security and future.
Gender inequality: In societies where girls are not valued as highly as boys, parents may see no harm in marrying off their daughters at a young age, as they may view girls as a financial burden or believe that their only role is to be a wife and mother.
Conflict and displacement: In areas affected by conflict or natural disasters, families may see child marriage as a way to protect their daughters from harm or to provide for them in unstable situations. In some cases, girls may be married off to older men in exchange for protection or shelter.
Life’s meaning for some societies is girls getting married and becoming a mother. These are the thoughts that are rooted deep in the mindset of those who support child marriage.
This thinking needs to change and awareness needs to be created about the ill effects of this disused practice.
- Health risks: Girls who are married at a young age are often not physically mature enough to handle the demands of sexual activity and childbirth, which can lead to serious health problems, including complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and increased risk of sexually transmitted infections.
- Limited education: Child brides are often unable to continue their education, which limits their opportunities and can contribute to poverty and poor health outcomes.
- Economic dependence: Child brides are often forced to rely on their husbands for financial support, which can leave them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
- Psychological trauma: Being married at a young age can lead to significant psychological trauma, as child brides are often separated from their families and forced into a new and unfamiliar environment.
- Limited social mobility: Child brides are often unable to pursue their own interests and goals, and may be restricted from participating in social and economic activities, which can limit their social mobility and prevent them from contributing to their communities in meaningful ways.
- Bringing up their children: Child brides are not able to bring up their children appropriately due to a lack of education, maturity, and awareness.
Child marriage is a complex issue, and there are many approaches that can be taken to curb it. Here are three potential ways:
- Education: Education is one of the most effective ways to curb child marriage. By providing girls with education and promoting the value of education in communities, girls may be less likely to be married off at a young age. Educating families and communities about the risks and negative consequences of child marriage can also be effective in preventing child marriages from occurring.
- Legal frameworks and enforcement: Laws that prohibit child marriage must be put in place and enforced by authorities. Governments can also work to strengthen legal systems, including the criminal justice system, to ensure that those who violate laws on child marriage are held accountable. Civil society organizations, including women’s groups and youth-led organizations, can also play an important role in advocating for and monitoring legal frameworks.
- Empowering girls and women: Empowering girls and women can be key to curbing child marriage. By providing girls with opportunities to build their skills, pursue their interests, and contribute to their communities, they may be less likely to be forced into marriage. This can involve providing girls with vocational training, leadership development, and other opportunities that help them gain autonomy and independence. It can also involve working with boys and men to challenge harmful gender norms and promote gender equality.
There is a helpline number – 1098, where anyone can call to complain about a child being forcibly married.
Let us create and spread awareness around us and help better society.
She Writer Seethaalakshmi S is a voracious reader, holding an MBA degree in Marketing, has worked at mid-senior management level in various domains, has written recipes and write-ups for websites, and is a blogger