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CHILD MARRIAGE
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CHILD MARRIAGE

Child marriage is a common practice in many countries around the world, however it is especially prevalent in India, where more than one third of all child brides live. According to UNICEF, 47% of girls are married by 18 years of age, and 18% are married by 15 years of age. These marriages are often performed without the consent of the girls involved in the marriage. Indian law has made child marriage illegal, but it is still widely practiced across the nation. The highest rates are seen particularly in the rural states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. It affects both boys and girls, but statistics show that girls are far more likely to be forced into a child marriage than boys; however the percentage of girls forced into child marriage in India has declined in recent years.

Consequences of child marriage

  • Early maternal deaths

    Girls who marry earlier in life are less likely to be informed about reproductive issues, and because of this, pregnancy-related deaths are known to be the leading cause of mortality among married girls between 15 and 19 years of age. These girls are twice more likely to die in childbirth than girls between 20 and 24 years of age. Girls younger than 15 years of age are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth.

  • Infant health

    Infants born to mothers under the age of 18 are 60% more likely to die in their first year than to mothers over the age of 19. If the children survive, they are more likely to suffer from low birth weight, malnutrition, and late physical and cognitive development.

  • Fertility outcomes

    A study conducted in India by the International Institute for Population Sciences and Macro International in 2005 and 2006 showed high fertility, low fertility control, and poor fertility outcomes data within child marriages. 90.8% of young married women reported no use of a contraceptive prior to having their first child. 23.9% reported having a child within the first year of marriage. 17.3% reported having three or more children over the course of the marriage. 23% reported a rapid repeat childbirth, and 15.2% reported an unwanted pregnancy. 15.3% reported a pregnancy termination (stillbirths, miscarriages or abortions) than in urban areas.

  • Violence

    Young girls in a child marriage are more likely to experience domestic violence in their marriages as opposed to older women. A study conducted in India by the International Centre for Research on Women showed that girls married before 18 years of age are twice as likely to be beaten, slapped, or threatened by their husbands and three times more likely to experience sexual violence. Young brides often show symptoms of sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress. Fertility rates are higher in slums







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