Child Marriage: A Horror That Still Prevails

January 20, 2024

MADHYA PRADESH/RAJASTHAN, India – “I was 16 and never missed a day at school,” recalled Kamal, who was forced to drop out of school and become a child bride. “I had to leave it all as my parents had bartered me for a girl my elder brother was to marry.” - An excerpt from the Dependent, deprived: Child brides in India tell their stories.

According to UNICEF, child marriage is described as, ‘any formal marriage or informal union between a child under the age of 18 and an adult or another child’. This age-old practice, both backward and harmful, has been continued throughout generations. Although there has been a significant decrease in child marriages over the last few years, the number of cases is still concerning. According to some studies, one in every five girls is involved in a child marriage around the globe.

This practice violates human rights and is detrimental to one’s development, be it the party involved or the community. The consequences of such practices tend to affect the education, economic conditions, physical and mental health of the victim (usually girls). An observation that is made in most child marriages is that the minor girl who is married off at a young age is unable to finish her schooling as her in-laws would be against it. This can also affect her ability to obtain a job with enough income further increasing their dependency and isolation from society.

In addition to the above, another risk emerging from such regressive practice is the risk of adolescent pregnancy. Adolescent pregnancy is not to be encouraged as it brings forward a horde of health risks which may be extended to the baby too. The lives of the mother and child are both at risk here. Ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, weak child and even death may be a result in some cases.

In India, under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 - a child has been defined as ‘a person who, if a male, has not completed twenty-one years of age, and if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age’.

This act also declares that any marriage solemnised between children below the legal age limit is null and void. The act also provides punishments for various offences for allowing or conducting child marriages between minors or marrying minors with adults. Despite this, child marriage is still widespread across the nation. States like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh still have average age of marriage below the legal age of eighteen for females.

The future of our country is built on the dreams and hopes of our children. We must ensure as the citizens of India, we must not deprive our children of their childhood. Such regressive practices that thrive by crushing their dreams and enclosing them in a social cage should cease to exist. It is only then, we as a nation have truly taken a step forward in the development of our country.




By Sakshi Ramachandran
Sakshi Ramachandran is from Urwa Store, Mangaluru. She has completed her BA in St Agnes Institution. She is currently pursuing her bachelors of education from St Aloysius Institute of Education in Mangaluru.
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Comment on this article

  • David Pais, Mangalore

    Sat, Jan 20 2024

    As per my knowledge, girls marrying at the age of 8-17 and becoming pregnant will deliver a defective child. Marrying at the early age and becoming pregnant at the early age and delivering a baby will be a faulty baby. Becoming pregnant at the early age where the mother herself requires a mental/brains growth and a physical growth for herself. In my point of view, in such conditions how a mother can deliver a healthy baby when she herself needs sufficient brains growth and her physical growth?! Risking the unhealthy child and risking the mother's health. The article is an eye opener those who read, however those who married and do not know to read and write how they will perceive. In north Karnataka child marriage is still prevalent. This is a very sad to note in this 21st century.

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