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Child Marriage in India

Even though there is a law banning child marriages, this practice is pretty wide spread in India. These marriages do not get registered so it is quite difficult to estimate the number of girls and boys who are forced into child marriages.

According to research conducted, the roots of child marriage go back to over thousand years when India was invaded by foreign troops. The troops used to carry away young girls as a part of the war spoils. Young girls were married off to protect them from sexual overtures and exploitation. Soon child marriage became the norm and in certain communities it is considered a sin to keep a girl in her parents home after she has reached puberty.

Other reason cited for child marriage is virginity. Due to pressure from the society and the normal view that a girl should be a virgin when she gets married, many young girls, even as young as 5 years old, are forced into child marriages causing psychological trauma to the girl and forcing her to bear children before her body is ready for motherhood.

In today’s scenario the socio-economic factor plays a big role in child marriage. Number of parents because of poverty prefer getting their daughter married so that they have one mouth less to feed. While the boy’s family get a person to do all the house work and chores without asking for payment.

According to the Census conducted in 1991, the highest number of child marriages take place in the state of Rajasthan, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. While the Census 2001 reports that there are around 300,000 girls under the age of 15 who have given birth to at least one child.

Indian law stipulates that a girl has to be minimum 18 years old to get married while the boy should be 21 years of age. However, in the poorer strata of the society this law is flaunted and no one seems to care when child marriages take place in the open – not even the local government or schools.

Child marriage is the main cause why India women are far behind with regards to women’s rights. This is also the cause of high birth rates, poverty, high illiteracy, infant mortality and low life expectancy amongst the women in rural India.

Social workers working against this feudal system attribute child marriages for domestic violence. They say that husbands normally tire off their wives after producing a few children while their wives are still teenagers. In certain cases, husbands sell their wives to other men.

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