Child Marriage is a harmful traditional practise that denies 10 million girls annually to their right to health, education and security every day. About 19 girls a minute are denied their voice and more than 25,000 girls are married before they turn 18 with little or no say in the decision.
Child Brides are more likely to
Stay out of School
Child brides drop out of school to devote time at home and family. The education gap between girls and boys in is often greater in communities where child marriages is common
Have Health Concerns:
Child brides face higher risk of death/ injury due to early sexual activity and childbearing. Those under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than those in their 20s.
Be Insecure/ Unsafe
Child brides are more likely to suffer domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Raise Unhealthy Children.
About 60% children born to child brides below 18 years are likely to die in the first year than those born to a mother older than 19.
Reasons Why Child Marriages Continue
Seen as burden child marriage is seen as a way out to secure the girl’s future socially and economically. Early marriages ensures safety against sexual abuse, unwanted male attention , chastity and virginity of the girls. Low demand of dowry for young couples, lack of education , awareness on consequences , poor implementation of the law and lack of will by Administering Agencies are also additional reasons for early marriages.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
The Act came in force on 1st November 2007 and applies to all citizens of India irrespective of religion excepting Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Pondicherry and declares marriages between children-18 years in the case of girls and 21 years in the case of boys as an offence.
Prevention and Punishment
- Legal Officers authorised to prevent, implement the law and make punishable certain actions.
- Community to be empowered to make use of the law.
Applicable under Indian Penal Code for those who permit and promote child marriages
- Solemnisation of marriage is a cognisable and non-bailable offence.
- Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPOs) in States are authorised to prevent child marriages, ensure protection to victims and prosecute offenders.
- Courts have the power to issue injunction to prevent child marriages.
- Marriages to be declared null and void if the injunction is violated/ or, child is taken away from lawful guardian by enticement, force or deceitful means or sold or trafficked for the purpose of marriage.
- The CMPO/ District Collector is responsible for sensitisation and awareness building in the community.
What is Girls not Brides Initiative
Girls Not Brides is a new global partnership to end the harmful traditional practice of child marriage, and enable girls can fulfil their potential. Created by The Elders, Girls Not Brides brings together organisations that work to tackle child marriage at the grassroots, national and global levels around the world. The YWCA of India through the World YWCA has become partner with the Girls not Brides.
How YWCAs can take part
Day Centres/ Crèche’s/ Schools
- Sensitize/ involve parents as watch dogs
- Build perspectives of young children on the rights issue
Use expertise as:
- To fight for rights
- Prevent exploitation
- Be future leaders /peer trainers
Use them to:
- Advocate for change/ Pressure Groups
- Mobilization of Religious leaders
The world is blessed with the biggest generation of girls in history. Child Marriage holds these girls back and keep their communities poor. By ending child marriage we can empower them to achieve their full potential and help transform communities on an unprecedented scale.