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ROLL.NO. 1142

I take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude and deep
regard to my guide Mr. Ravi Ranjan Kumar for his exemplary
guidance, monitoring and constant encouragement throughout the
course of this project. The blessing, help and guidance given by him
time to time shall carry me a long way in the journey of life on which
I am about to embark.
I am obliged to staff members of Chanakya National Law
University, for the valuable information provided by them in their
perspective fields. I am grateful to this cooperation during the period
of my assignment.
Last but not the least, I thank almighty, my parents and my friends for
their constant support and encouragement without which this project
would not be possible.


Origin and Causes of Child Marriage
Laws against Child Marriage in India
Consequences of Child Marriage
Case study

1. To know about the causes of Child Marriage.
2. To know about the laws against Child Marriage in India.
3. To know about the consequences of Child Marriage.

Child Marriage is a way of protecting young girls from premarital sex
and rape. Girls are married early to alleviate the familys poverty and
secure the familys honour. Child marriages have been prohibited to a
greater extent by laws against child marriages.

Primary Sources: Acts and Statutes
Secondary Sources: Books, Journals, Websites

Child marriage is a human rights abuse. It constitutes a grave threat to young girls lives,
health and future prospects. Marriage for girls can lead to complications related to pregnancy
and childbirth, and in developing countries these are the main causes of death among 1519
year-old girls.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of
all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), both human rights instruments,
outlaw child marriage. The International Conference on Population and Development in 1994
(ICPD) called on countries to eliminate child marriage and to enforce laws that ensure free
and full consent.
Child marriage was outlawed in 1929, under Indian law. In the British colonial times, the
legal minimum age of marriage was set at 15 for girls and 18 for boys. Under protests from
Muslim organizations in the undivided British India, a personal law, Shariat Act was passed
in 1937 that allowed child marriages with consent from girl's guardian. 1 Section 2 of the 1937
Act stated:
...any other provision of Personal Law, marriage, dissolution of marriage, including talaq, ila,
zihar, lian, khula and mubaraat, maintenance, dower, guardianship, gifts, trusts and trust
properties, and wakfs (other than charities and charitable institutions and charitable and
religious endowments) the rule of decision in cases where the parties are Muslims shall be the
Muslim Personal Law (Shariats)
Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 19372
The applicability and permissibility of child marriage among Muslims under the 1937 Act,
under India's Constitution adopted in 1950, remains a controversial subject, with a series of
1 Hilary Amster, Child marriage in India University of San Francisco (2009)
2 Ibid.

Supreme Court cases and rulings. After independence and adoption of Indian constitution in
1950, the child marriage act has undergone several revisions. The minimum legal age for
marriage, since 1978, has been 18 for women and 21 for men. 3 The child marriage prevention
laws have been challenged in Indian courts, with some Muslim Indian organizations seeking
no minimum age and that the age matter is left to their personal law. 4 Child marriage is an
active political subject as well as a subject of continuing cases under review in the highest
courts of India.5
Several states of India have introduced incentives to delay marriages. For example, the state
of Haryana introduced the so-called Apni Beti, Apna Dhan program in 1994, which translates
to "My daughter, My wealth". It is a conditional cash transfer programme dedicated to
delaying young marriages by providing a government paid bond in her name, payable to her
parents, in the amount of 25000 (US$380), after her 18th birthday if she is not married.6
The definition of child marriage was last updated by India with its The Prohibition of Child
Marriage Act, 2006, which applies only (a) to Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and those
who are non-Muslims of India, and (b) outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir. For Muslims
of India, child marriage definition and regulations based on Sharia and Nikahhas been
claimed as a personal law subject. For all others, The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of
2006 defines "child marriage" means a marriage, or a marriage about to be solemnized, to
which either of the contracting parties is a child; and child for purposes of marriage is defined
based on gender of the person - if a male, it is 21 years of age, and if a female, 18 years of
3 Child Marriage in India: Achievements, Gaps and Challenges [Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights|OHCHR], United Nations
4 M.G. Radhakrishnan and J. Binduraj, In a league of their own India Today (July 5, 2013)
5 Ibid.
6 International Center for Research on Women, "Child Marriage Facts and
7 The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006 The Gazette of India, Ministry of Law and
Justice, Government of India (January 11, 2007)

UNICEF defines child marriage as a formal marriage or informal union before 18 years of
age.8UN Women has proposed that child marriage be defined as a forced marriage because
they believe children under age 18 are incapable of giving a legally valid consent.9

The origin of child marriages is a controversial subject. A New York Times report and other
scholars claim the origin of child marriages in India to be Muslim invasions that began more
than 1,000 years ago. The invaders raped unmarried Hindu girls or carried them off as booty,
prompting Hindu communities to marry off their daughters early to protect them. 10 Others
suggest child marriages were common everywhere in the world before the 19th century. 11
Parents of a child entering into a child marriage are often poor and use the marriage as a way
to make her future better, especially in areas with little economic opportunities.12

8 UNICEF, "Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse"

9 UN Women, Definition of forced and child marriage
10 Though Illegal, Child Marriage Is Popular in Part of India, The New York Times (May 11,
11 Abgeliki Laiou (1993), Coercion to sex and marriage in ancient and medieval societies,
Washington, DC, pages 85-190
12 Sanyukta, M.; M. Greene and A. Malhotra (2003), Too Young to Wed: The Lives, Rights,
and Health of Young Married Girls, ICRW, Washington D.C

Dowry is a practice in India where the bride's family transfers wealth to the groom; in many
cases, it is a demand and condition of marriage from the groom's family. Dowry is found
among all religious faiths in India, and the amount of dowry demanded and given by the
bride's family has been correlated to the age of girl. Nagi, 13 in 1993, suggested that the
practice of dowry creates a fear and pressure to avoid late marriages, and encourages early
marriage. Poverty in India has been cited as a cause of early marriages. Child marriages of
girls is a way out of desperate economic conditions, and way to reduce the expenses of a poor
Political turmoil
At the time of the Delhi Sultanate political atmosphere was turbulent and ruled by Delhi
Sultans in an absolute monarchy government. The sultans had an extreme commitment to
their religion and forced many to convert, causing socio-cultural unrest, and Hindu women
suffered the most. They invented the ill omen of giving birth to a female baby and believed
that young unmarried girls caused disaster. Child marriage became a widespread cultural
practice with various reasons to justify it, and many marriages were performed while the girl
was still an infant.15
Military alliances
Indian feudalistic society became present, where characteristics such as honor, rivalry, and
animosity were important qualities to possess, and because of this, families and kingdoms
created strong military alliances to preserve or destroy power between them. To ensure the
alliance was upheld by both sides, each family exchanged a young member of their
household who was reared and educated at the other family's estate. The children were the
assurance that the alliance between the families was honoured, but in case it wasn't enough,
the families made a marriage arrangement to deepen the alliance even further. They believed
13 B Nagi, Child Marriage in India: A Study of Its Differential Patterns in Rajasthan, ISBN
14 Targeting Girls in the Name of Tradition: Child Marriage Melanne Verveer, Ambassadorat-Large for Global Women's Issues, US Department of State, (July 15, 2010)
15 Birodkar, Sudheer, "Hindu Social

the marriage wouldn't work if they waited for the young children to grow up because they
could possibly pick someone outside of the alliance. If they performed the marriage while the
children were still young and susceptible to their parents' influence, the children would have
no choice but to marry who their parents choose to strengthen the alliance.16
Social reasons
Child marriage tradition in India has social reasons too. Indians performed child marriages to
get their girls protected against rapes and abductions by foreign rulers. The other reason was
to strengthen family relations and bonds, and to satisfy the elder people who wanted to see
their grand children marriages before their death. However in child marriage system, the
parents used to send their girls to their husbands house only after attaining puberty. In some
economically poor families, the parents used to perform marriages to their under aged girls
even with much elderly men. In some villages children are forced to marry as their parents
create pressure on them, because if young girls are not married, the whole family is
abandoned from the village.

Child marriage is a violation of Article 16(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, which states that Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent
of the intending spouses. Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) states that women should have the same right as

16 Ibid.

men to freely choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full
consent, and that the betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect
The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929
The Child Marriage Restraint Act, also called the Sarda Act, 17 was a law to restrict the
practice of child marriage. It was enacted on 1 April 1930, extended across the whole nation,
with the exceptions of the states of Jammu and Kashmir, and applied to every Indian citizen.
Its goal was to eliminate the dangers placed on young girls who could not handle the stress of
married life and avoid early deaths. This Act defined a male child as 21 years or younger, a
female child as 18 years or younger, and a minor as a child of either sex 18 years or younger.
The punishment for a male between 18 and 21 years marrying a child became imprisonment
of up to 15 days, a fine of 1,000 rupees, or both. The punishment for a male above 21 years of
age became imprisonment of up to three months and a possible fine. The punishment for
anyone who performed or directed a child marriage ceremony became imprisonment of up to
three months and a possible fine, unless he could prove the marriage he performed was not
a child marriage. The punishment for a parent or guardian of a child taking place in the
marriage became imprisonment of up to three months or a possible fine. 18 It was amended in
1940 and 1978 to continue raising the ages of male and female children.19
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
The object of the Act is to prohibit solemnization of child marriage and connected and
incidental matters. To ensure that child marriage is eradicated from within the society, the
Government of India enacted Prevention of Child marriage Act 2006 by replacing the earlier
legislation of Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929. This new Act is armed with enabling
provisions to prohibit for child marriage, protect and provide relief to victim and enhance
punishment for those who abet, promote or solemnize such marriage. This Act also calls
appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officer for implementing this Act.

17 Goswami, Ruchira, 2010, "Child Marriage in India: Mapping the Trajectory of Legal
Reforms" http://sanhati.com/excerpted/2207/
18 Government of India: Ministry of Women and Child Development, "The Child Marriage
Restraint Act" http://wcd.nic.in/cmr1929.htm
19 Supra, N.7.

It came into effect on 1 November 2007 to address and fix the shortcomings of the Child
Marriage Restraint Act.20 This Act consists of 21 sections. It extends all over India except
Jammu and Kashmir and renoncants of the Union territory of Pondichery.


The change in

name was meant to reflect the prevention and prohibition of child marriage, rather than
restraining it.22The previous Act also made it difficult and time consuming to act against child
marriages and did not focus on authorities as possible figures for preventing the
marriages.23This Act kept the ages of adult males and females the same but made some
significant changes to further protect the children. Boys and girls forced into child
marriages as minors have the option of voiding their marriage up to two years after reaching
adulthood, and in certain circumstances, marriages of minors can be null and void before they
reach adulthood. All valuables, money, and gifts must be returned if the marriage is nullified,
and the girl must be provided with a place of residency until she marries or becomes an adult.
Children born from child marriages are considered legitimate, and the courts are expected to
give parental custody with the children's best interests in mind. Any male over 18 years of
age who enters into a marriage with a minor or anyone who directs or conducts a child
marriage ceremony can be punished with up to two years of imprisonment or a fine.24
Provision for maintenance and residence of female
The District Court while granting annulment of the child marriage, make an interim or final
order directing the male contracting party, to pay maintenance to the female contracting party.
If the male contracting party is minor, then the court shall direct the parents/guardian to the
minor, to pay maintenance to the female contracting party.25The female contracting party is
20 Government of India: Ministry of Women and Child Development, "The Prohibition of
Child Marriage Act, 2006," UNICEF
21 Section 1, prohibition of child marriage act,2006.
22 Supra,N.7.
23 Supra, N.7
24 Ibid
25 Sec 4(1), Prohibition of child marriage act

entitled to get maintenance up to her remarriage. The amount of maintenance may be paid
monthly or in lump sum. The quantum of maintenance shall be determined considering the
needs of the child, life style enjoyed by her and means of income of the paying party. The
District court may also issue suitable order as to the residence of female contracting party.
District court shall make appropriate order for the custody of the children of such child
marriage and while making such order of custody, the court issue order taking in to account
of the welfare and best interest of the child of such marriage. The court shall also make
appropriate orders of maintenance and issue visitation orders also. 26Child begotten or
conceived of such child marriage shall be deemed to be legitimate children not withstanding
such marriage is annulled by the court. Court has power to add modify or revoke any order
made under S. 3, 4 and 5, i.e., with respect to maintenance, residence, when there is change in
For getting maintenance and residence of female contracting party or child born in such
marriage and for custody of children, application can be moved before the district court
having jurisdiction where
1. The defendant / child resides,
2. where marriage was solemnized or
3. where the parties last resided or
4. where the petitioner is residing on the date of presentation of petition.27
Offences and punishment under this Act
1. Punishment for male adult: If an adult male who is above 18 years of age contracts
child marriage, he shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for 2 years or with
fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or both.28
26 Sec 5, Prohibition of child marriage act
27 Sec. 8, Prohibition of child marriage act
28 Sec 9 Prohibition of child marriage act

2. Punishment for solemnizing marriage: If a person performs, conducts, directs or abets
any child marriage, he shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for 2 years or
with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or both.29
3. Punishment for promoting / permitting solemnization of marriage: Any person having
charge of the child whether parent or guardian or any other person including member
of organization or association of persons who does any act to promote the passing or
permit child marriage or negligently fails to prevent it from being solemnized,
including attending or participating such marriage, shall be punishable with rigorous
imprisonment for 2 years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or both.30
Offence under this Act is cognizable and non bailable.[17]
Marriage will be null and void in the following circumstances31
1. Where minor child is taken or enticed out of the keeping legal guardian
2. By force compelled or by any deceitful means induced to go from any place
3. Is sold for purpose of marriage and go through a form of marriage or if the minor is
married after which the minor is sold off or trafficked or used for immoral purpose
The Judicial First Class magistrate / Metropolitan Magistrate has power to issue injunction
prohibiting child marriage. Which can be done by an application from the child marriage
prohibition officer or receipt of any complaint or even suo motu and if the court is satisfied
that a child marriage in contravention to the Act is arranged or about to be solemnized, court
shall issue injunction against any person including a member of organization prohibiting such
marriage. Usually injunction is issued against any person after giving him notice and an
opportunity to show cause, however, in case of urgency, the court has power to issue interim
29 Sec 10 Prohibition of child marriage act
30 Sec11 Prohibition of child marriage act
31 Sec 15 Prohibition of child marriage act

injunction without giving any notice.32 A person disobeying the injunction shall be punishable
with imprisonment for a term which may extend 2 years and fine which may extend to 1 lakh
rupees or with both. No women shall be punishable with imprisonment under this section.
Any child marriage solemnized in contravention to the injunction order issued whether
interim or final shall be void ab initio.
Child marriage protection officers and their duties
The government shall appoint Child marriage protection officers over the area specified in the
official gazette. Their duties are33
1. To prevent child marriage by taking action
2. To collect evidence for effective prosecution
3. To advise the locals not to indulge in promoting or helping or allowing solemnization
of child marriage
4. To create awareness of the evil of such child marriage
5. To sensitize the community on the issue
6. To furnish periodical returns and statistics when the government may direct
7. Such other duties assigned by the Government.
The Child marriage protection officers are deemed to be public servant and no suit will lie on
the action taken by the Child marriage protection officers in good faith. Child marriage
Restraint Act is repealed by this new Act. There are some controversies existing regarding the
marriageable age of girls, particularly Muslim girls. In kerala, Nine Muslim organizations led
by Indian Union Muslim League resolved on September 21, 2013, to move the Supreme
Court to get Muslim women excluded from the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006.34

32 Sec 13 Prohibition of child marriage act

33 Sec 16(3) Prohibition of child marriage act

Muslim organizations of India have long argued that Indian laws, passed by its parliament,
such as the 2006 child marriage law do not apply to Muslims, because marriage is a personal
law subject.35The Delhi High Court, as well as other state high courts of India, have
disagreed. The Delhi Court, for example, ruled that Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
overrides all personal laws and governs each and every citizen of India. 36The ruling stated
that an under-age marriage, where either the man or woman is over 16 years old, would not
be a void marriage but voidable one, which would become valid if no steps are taken by such
court has option[s] to order otherwise. In case either of the parties is less than 16 years old,
the marriage is void, given the age of consent is 16 in India, sex with minors under the age of
16 is a statutory crime under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code.37
Legal Action on Legal Confusion
There is a standing legal confusion as to Marital Rape within prohibited Child Marriages in
India. Marital rape per se is not a crime in India; but the position with regard to children is
confusing. While the exception under the criminal law (section 375, Indian Penal Code,
1860) applicable to adults puts an exception and allows marital rape of a girl child between
the age of 1518 years by her husband; another new and progressive legislation Protection of
Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 disallows any such sexual relationships and puts
such crimes with marriages as an aggravated offense. A Public Interest Litigation filled by
Independent Thought - www.ithought.in an organization working on child rights law, is being
heard in the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India for declaring the exception allowing marital
rape within prohibited child marriages as unconstitutional; Independent Thought vs. Union of
India [W.P(civil) 382 of 2013].
34 http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/muslim-marital-age-muslim-women-indian-unionmuslim-league-cpi-m-criticises/1/311284.html
35 M.G. Radhakrishnan and J. Binduraj, In a league of their own India Today (July 5, 2013)
36 2012 [Volume No. 3] JCC [Journal of Criminal Cases] Page No. 2148
37 United Nations, 2003, "Article16

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,
commonly known as CEDAW, is an international bill attempting to end discrimination
against women. Article 16, Marriage and Family Life, states that all women, as well as men,
have the right to choose their spouse, to have the same responsibilities, and to decide on how
many children and the spacing between them. This convention states that child
marriage should not have a legal effect, all action must be taken to enforce a minimum age,
and that all marriages must be put into an official registry. 38India signed the convention on 30
July 1980 but made the declaration that, because of the nation's size and amount of people,
it's impractical to have a registration of marriages.39

38 Ibid.
39 United Nations, "Treaty Collection" http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?


Early maternal deaths
Girls who marry earlier in life are less likely to be informed about reproductive issues,40and
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. 41These girls are twice more likely to die
in childbirth than girls between 20 and 24 years of age. 42Girls younger than 15 years of age
are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth.43
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.44
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
40 Chandrasekhar, S., 2010, "Factors Affecting Age and Marriage and Age at First Birth in
India," Journal of Quantitative Economics, pg. 83
41 Childinfo, 2009, "Statistics by Area- Child Marriage,"
42 UNICEF, "Early marriage: A childhood
43 International Center for Research on Women, "Child Marriage Facts and
44 Hervish, Alexandra, Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs, 2011, "Who Speaks for Me? Ending Child
Marriage," Population Reference Bureau, pg. 2

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




termination (stillbirths, miscarriages or abortions).45 Fertility rates are higher in slums than in
urban areas.46
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 posttraumatic stress.47

45 Raj, Anita, Niranjan Saggurti, Donta Balaiah, Jay G. Silverman, 2010, "Prevalence of
Child Marriage and its Impact on the Fertility and Fertility Control Behaviors of Young
Women in India" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2759702/
46 Chandrasekhar, S., 2010, "Factors Affecting Age and Marriage and Age at First Birth in
India," Journal of Quantitative Economics, pg. 86
47 Supra, N.24


Munshi Ram v. Emperor48
The daughter of Ram Chander has been married to the son of Munshi Ram. The age of the
girl is over 14 years and therefore she is not a child as defined in the Act. The age of the boy
was under 18 years and therefore be is a child. A child as defined in the Act means a person
who, if a male is under 18 years of age, if a female is under 14 years of age.
It was held that as in the case of Hindu marriages it cannot be said' that the father of the
bridegroom or the bride does not perform, or direct the marriage. It is generally the father or
the guardian who arranges for the marriage of the boy, and takes the marriage party to the
house of the bride It is the father of the bride, who takes part actually in the performance of
the marriage ceremonies, as it is he who gives his daughter in marriage. There- , fore it
cannot be said that Ram Chander did not perform or direct the marriage. There can therefore
be no question as regards the legality of the conviction of both the applicants under Section 5.
Independent Thoughts v/s Union of India [W.P(Civil)382/2013]
On 18th September 2015 the Supreme Court heard the ongoing PIL by NGO Independent
Thought [Independent Thought vs. Union of India (W.P. Civil 382 of 2013)] for declaration
that Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (provision on Rape), [as amended
by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013] is violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the
Constitution to the extent that it permits intrusive sexual intercourse with a girl child aged
between 15 to 18 years only on the ground that she has been married. The exception is
contrary to the provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012
Laxmi Sargara Case (2012)

48 AIR 1936 All 11

A bride and her groom who were married as infants won an annulment for their child
marriage. The ruling is a landmark one for Indian child brides. Laxmi Sargara and her
betrothed Rakesh, now 18 and 20 respectively, were married by their parents in Rajasthan,
India, when they were toddlers. Now, as part of an anti-child-marriage campaign, the city of
Jodhpur has annulled their union.
Though many of the major international human rights treaties do not deal overtly with the
issue of child marriage, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women entrusts states with the responsibility to eliminate
discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relation. Under
this provision, states have to make sure that women and girls have the right to enter into
marriage only with their free and full consent.


child marriage as a formal marriage or informal union before 18 years of age.49UN
Women has proposed that child marriage be defined as a forced marriage because they
believe children under age 18 are incapable of giving a legally valid consent. Political
turmoil, military alliance and social causes are the main causes of child marriage. Child
marriage restraint act, 1929 and prohibition of child marriage act , 2006 have decreased the
child marriage rates in India.
The table below provides some of child marriage estimates for India
Data Year

%Females Married (<18)


Census of India
Census of India
Census of India
Census of India

According to 2011 nationwide census of India, the average age of marriage for women in
India is 21.2.50In the age group 15-19, 69.6% of all women surveyed in India had never been
married.51 The Census of India has counted and reported married women by age, with
proportion of females in child marriage falling in each 10 year census period since 1981. In
its 2001 census report, India stated zero married girls below age 10, 1.4 million married girls
out of 59.2 million girls in the age 10-14, and 11.3 million married girls out of 46.3 million

49 UNICEF, "Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse"

50 Women and men in India 2012 CSO/Census India 2011, Government of India, See page
xxi, Highlights item
51 National Family Health Survey - India, International Institute for Population Sciences and
Government of India (2009), see Table 6.1

girls in the age 15-19 (which includes 18-19 age group). 52 Since 2001, child marriage rates in
India have fallen another 46%, reaching an overall nationwide average 7% child marriage
rates by 2009. Jharkhand is the state with highest child marriage rates in India (14.1%),
while Kerala is the only state where child marriage rates have increased in recent
years. 53 Rural rates of child marriages were three times higher than urban India rates in
Eradicating extreme poverty thereby, supporting girls to avoid child marriage, to stay in
school, and to delay having children will translate into greater opportunities for them to
develop new skills and generate income, building an economic base that will help lift future
generations out of poverty. Girls limited education reduces their chances of acquiring skills
and economic opportunities. Mothers with little education are less likely to keep their own
children in school, perpetuating a downward cycle of deprivation.
By promoting gender equality and empowering women as child brides have little say in when
or whom they will marry, have little influence with their husbands and in-laws, have little
opportunity to develop awareness of their rights, and are in no position to claim or demand
them. Their husbands tend to be older, sometimes much older. These large age gaps reinforce
power differentials between girls and their husbands. Girls who marry before age 18 are more
likely to experience violence within marriage than girls who marry later. Marriage often ends
a girls opportunity for education, and with it the possibility of access to better-paid work and
decision-making positions outside the home.
Stillbirths and deaths during the first week of life are 50 per cent higher among babies born to
adolescent mothers than among babies born to mothers in their twenties. 20 Children of
adolescent mothers are more likely to be premature and have low birth weight.
Measure for maternal health should also be taken. Every year, nearly 16 million adolescent
girls aged 15-19 years old give birth; about 95 per cent of these births occur in low- and
52 Table C-2 Marital Status by Age and Sex Subtable C0402, India Total Females Married by
Age Group, 2001 Census of India, Government of India (2009
53 K. Sinha Nearly 50% fall in brides married below 18 The Times of India (February 10,
54 R Gopakumar, Child marriages high in Kerala Deccan Herald (June 19, 2013)

middle-income countries. Ninety per cent of these adolescent mothers in developing countries
are married. These young, first-time mothers face much higher risks during pregnancy and
childbirth than older women. Early childbearing is associated with more pregnancies at
shorter intervals during a mothers lifetime. These factorsa young age, multiple children
and a short interval between birthsare all linked to a higher risk of death and disability
related to pregnancy or childbirth. 22
Young girls are especially vulnerable to HIV because of their biology, and the heightened risk
can increase with marriage, especially for child brides who marry older, more sexuallyexperienced husbands. 24 The MDGs remain unfinished business, and preparations for a
post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda are underway. Political and financial
investments are urgently needed as part of national strategies for poverty reduction and social
justice to end the practice of child marriage, and to make programmes for the most vulnerable
girls a higher priority in the post- 2015 development agenda. Promising strategies and
evidence-based approaches for girls most at risk have been developed and tested, but require
more targeted investments. With the full commitment of governments, development
practitioners, civil societies, communities, families and girls themselves, a world without
child marriage can become a reality.



Mittal, K.M. Rai, Child Marriage in India

Sagade, Jaya, Child Marriage in India, Oxfor Univ. Press
Aparna Bhat, Aatreyee Sen, Uma Pradhan, Child Marriages and the Law in India,

Human Rights Law Network

Nagi, B.S., Child Marriage in India: A Study of Its Differential Patterns in Rajasthan,
Mittal Publications