Girls of 14-17 years biggest chunk of child marriages victims

Girls in the age group of 14-17 years form the biggest chunk of victims of child marriages in the country, latest survey figures showed.

According to Census 2011, 68.5 per cent of the victims, including boys, are girls in the age group of 14-17 years. Of the 12.20 crore victims — both boys and girls — 8.36 crore are girls in this age group.

Among the 14-15 years age group, 2.81 crore girls were married before the legal age of 18 years for marriage while the statistics for 16-17 years is 5.54 crore.

The number of boys, whose legal age for marriage is 21 years, who tied the knots when they were 14-15 years was much lower at 39 lakh. The figure for 16-17 years is 91.69 lakh.

The ill effects of child marriage were documented in government’s National Strategy Document on Prevention of Child Marriage. It said such marriages deny a child the basic right to good health, nutrition and education.

“Evidence shows that early marriage makes girls more vulnerable violence, abuse and exploitation,” the document published by Ministry of Women and Child Development had said.

The majority of the children who were married at a tender age are exposed to “early and frequent sexual relations and to repeated pregnancies and childbirth before they are physically mature and psychologically ready”, it said.

“For both girls and boys, marriage has a strong physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impact, cutting off educational opportunities and chances of personal growth. While boys are affected by child marriage, this is an issue that impacts upon girls in far larger numbers and with more intensity,” it said.

As per the census figures released on Friday, there is also considerable number of children who were married below ten years. While there were 42.76 lakh boys who were married when they were below the age of 10 years, the number of girls was almost double at 78.49 lakh.

Interestingly, the census figures also showed that 7.84 lakh people who went on to acquire degree and above married when they were less than 10 years. There were 4.68 lakh such men while the number of women was 3.15 lakh.

The number of women who married before 18 years decreased when it came to acquiring higher education, the Census said.

Child Marriage

 

Age

 

Male

 

Female

 

Less than 10

 

42.76 lakh

 

78.49 lakh

 

10-11

 

9.7 lakh

 

34.34 lakh

 

12-13

 

11.44 lakh

 

77.17 lakh

 

14-15

 

39 lakh

 

2.81 crore

 

16-17

 

91.69 lakh

 

5.54 crore

 

 

TOTAL

 

1.94 crore

 

10.26 crore

Source: Census 2011

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on May 29, 2016)

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