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DAMODARAM SANJIVAYYA NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY VISAKHAPATNAM, A.P., INDIA NAME OF THE PROJECT TOPIC CHILD MARRIAGES SUBJECT

DAMODARAM SANJIVAYYA NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY VISAKHAPATNAM, A.P., INDIA

DAMODARAM SANJIVAYYA NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY VISAKHAPATNAM, A.P., INDIA NAME OF THE PROJECT TOPIC CHILD MARRIAGES SUBJECT

NAME OF THE PROJECT TOPIC CHILD MARRIAGES

SUBJECT

SOCIOLOGY

NAME OF THE FACULTY

Prof. M. LAKSHMIPATHI RAJU

NAME OF THE STUDENT: ANGELA ELSA JOHN REGD NO: 2018LLB011 SECTION: A

  • 1 ST SEMESTER

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Firstly, I would like to be extremely grateful to my Sociology teacher, Prof. M. Lakshmipathi Raju for giving me an opportunity to do this project. I will be forever indebted to him lending his extraordinary support during the process of making the project. I would also like to thank my friends and family for encouraging me, thus helping me complete the project in a limited time frame.

I would also like to thank DSNLU for providing all necessary resources and a suitable workplace, thus helping me come up with a satisfactory project.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT………………………………………………………………………………………4

RESEARCH PROBLEM………………………………………………

......................................

4

REVIEW OF LITERATURE………………………………………………………………… 4

..

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY……………………………………………………………….5

WHAT IS CHILD MARRIAGE……………………………………………………………….5

WHERE DOES IT HAPPEN……………………………………………………………………5

Child Marriage in India………………………………………………………….7

WHY DOES CHILD MARRIAGE HAPPEN……………………………………………….10

WHAT IS THE IMPACT…………………………………………………………………… 11

..

HOW CAN WE END CHILD MARRIAGE…………………………………………………20

WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT CHILD MARRIAGE…………………………….24

CONCLUSION…………………………………………………………………………………29

BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………………………………29

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ABSTRACT

Child marriage is a violation of child rights, and has a negative impact on physical growth, health,

mental and emotional development, and education opportunities. Child marriage is a violation of

child rights, and has a negative impact on physical growth, health, mental and emotional

development, and education opportunities. While regional disparities exist, child marriage has

significantly decreased from 47 per cent (2006) to 27 per cent (2016).It also affects society as a

whole since child marriage reinforces a cycle of poverty and perpetuates gender discrimination,

illiteracy and malnutrition as well as high infant and maternal mortality rates.

Child marriage impacts on almost all facets of reaching the Millennium Development Goals. It is

for this reason that combating the problem is a key feature of the post-2015 MDG agenda and a

major priority for UNICEF in India. Both girls and boys are affected by child marriage, but girls

are affected in much larger numbers and with greater intensity. Child marriage can be seen across

the country but it is far higher in rural than in urban areas. Girls from poorer families, scheduled

castes and tribes, and with lower education levels are more likely to marry at a younger age.

Although child marriage is declining, the rate of decline is slow. Broad, multi-faceted strategies

are needed to target different aspects of the problem, including deep-rooted social norms and

behaviours, the perceived low value of girls, limited access to education, exposure to violence,

restricted freedom of movement and economic vulnerability. UNICEF has been working tirelessly

to prevent child marriage across the states where it works. Partnerships with government and civil

society are a crucial part of these efforts, but much more can be done.

RESEARCH PROBLEM

Why does child marriage happen

What is its impact

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Sources regarding the study mostly include the web sources and some of the books etc. Review

is done on a wider basis to elaborate in an accurate way. Then only the research becomes a

complete one. The data is collected from the web source.

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RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The researcher adopted Doctrinal method of study. This makes the collection of accurate

information regarding the research topic.

WHAT IS CHILD MARRIAGE?

Child Marriage is any formal marriage or informal union where one or both of the parties are

under 18 years of age. Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18, i.e.; that is 23

girls every minute, nearly one in every two seconds.

WHERE DOES IT HAPPEN?

CHILD MARRIAGE AROUND THE WORLD

Child marriage is a truly global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions and

ethnicities. Child brides can be found in every region in the world, from the Middle East to Latin

America, South Asia to Europe.

20 COUNTRIES WITH THE HIGHEST RATES OF CHILD MARRIAGE*

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*Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were first married

or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017). It is

based on Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)

and other national surveys, and refers to the most recent year available during the period 2010-

2016.
2016.

20 COUNTRIES WITH THE HIGHEST ABSOLUTE NUMBERS OF CHILD

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* Women aged 20 to 24 years old who were married before they were 18 1

CHILD MARRIAGE IN INDIA

India has the highest number of child brides in the world. It is estimated that 27% of girls in

India are married before their 18 th birthday. The rates of child marriage vary between states and

are as high as 69% and 65% in Bihar and Rajasthan.

TRENDS

Over the last decade, India has witnessed one of the largest declines in child marriage rates, from

nearly 50% to 27%.

While fewer Indian girls are marrying before the age of 15, rates of marriage have increased for

girls between ages 15 to 18.

DRIVERS

In many communities girls are seen as an economic burden and marriage transfers the

responsibility to her new husband. Poverty and marriage expenses such as dowry may lead a

family to marry off their daughter at a young age to reduce these costs.

Patriarchy, class and caste influence the norms and expectations around the role of women and

girls in India. In many communities restrictive norms limit girls to the role of daughter, wife and

mother who are first seen as the property of her father and then of her husband.

1 UNICEF, State of the World's Children, 2017

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Controlling girls and women’s sexuality is an influential factor in the practice of child marriage

too. Pressure towards early marriage aims to minimise the dishonour associated with improper

female sexual conduct, often leading to marriages arranged around the time of puberty.

Poor educational opportunities for girls, especially in rural areas, also increase girls’

vulnerability to child marriage.

LEGAL AGE OF MARRIAGE

The legal age for marriage is 18 for women, 21 for men, according to the Prohibition of Child

Marriage Act (PCMA) of 2006.

The PCMA establishes punishments for those who do not prevent child marriages and creates

Child Marriage Prohibition Officers. It includes a right to annul marriage if underage, but this

relies on families to report the act.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

A National Action Plan to prevent child marriages was drafted by the Ministry of Women and

Child Development in 2013, however, it has not yet been finalised.

The Government has used cash incentives (such as the Dhan Laxmi scheme and the Apni beti

apna dhun programme), adolescents’ empowerment programmes (Kishori Shakti Yojana) and

awareness-raising to induce behaviour change.

A REGIONAL CAMPAIGN TO END CHILD MARRIAGE

A National Action Plan to prevent child marriages was drafted by the Ministry of Women and

Child Development in 2013, however, it has not yet been finalised.

The Government has used cash incentives (such as the Dhan Laxmi scheme and the Apni beti

apna dhun programme), adolescents’ empowerment programmes (Kishori Shakti Yojana) and

awareness-raising to induce behaviour change.

GLOBAL PROGRAMME TO END CHILD MARRIAGE

India is one of 12 countries selected to be part of UNFPA and UNICEF’s Global Programme to

Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage.

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MEMBERS IN INDIA

AANGAN TRUST

Aangan Trust is an Indian organisation working with the state run Observation and Children’s

Homes to transform them into safe, rehabilitative spaces where children can heal and plan for a

better future. Aangan also works in vulnerable communities with marginalised children, helping

to provide support in areas where child marriage or trafficking is a tradition.

ASMITA RESOURCE CENTRE FOR WOMEN

The Asmita Resource Centre for Women works to better the socio-economic status of women in

India. Through outreach programmes, research, publications and media campaigns, the centre

creates a safe space in which women, men and youth can engage in dialogue on and analysis of

feminist and issues of critical importance to the community.

CENTRE FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH AND WOMEN DEVELOPMENT (CSRWD)

The Centre for Social Research and Women Development (CSRWD) is a grassroots group

working at the community level in Tamil Nadu, India. Established in 2016, their main focus is to

improve girls’ access to health and education in the region, while also working towards women’s

development and empowerment as well as rural development and poverty alleviation.

CHILD SURVIVAL INDIA

Based in New Delhi, Child Survival India strives to improve the quality of life of residents of the

low-income urban and rural communities with its interventions in the field of maternal and child

health care, women’s empowerment, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and adolescent / child

education.

NATIONAL MOTHER AND CHILD WELFARE ORGANIZATION (NAMCO)

National Mother and Child Welfare Organization was set up in 1991 and is a non-profit

organisation working to support women and children in Tamil Nadu, India. NAMCO advocates

for children’s and women’s rights and focuses on educational programmes and eradicating child

labour.

SHELTER FOR HER EMPOWERMENT (SHE)

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SHELTER FOR HER EMPOWERMENT (SHE) was set up in 2005 in West Bengal, India. The

organisation aims to empower women in order to achieve gender equality by facilitating

workshops, seminars and street theatres.

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?

At its heart, child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and the belief that girls and women are

somehow inferior to boys and men.Child marriage is a complex issue. Poverty, lack of education,

cultural practices, and insecurity fuel and sustain the practice.But drivers will vary from one

community to the next and the practice may look different across regions and countries, even

within the same country.

GENDER INEQUALITY

In many communities where child marriage is practised, girls are not valued as much as boys

they are seen as a burden on their family. Marrying your daughter at a young age can be viewed

as a way to ease economic hardship by transferring this ‘burden’ to her husband’s family. 2 Child

marriage is also driven by patriarchal values and the desire to control female sexuality, for

instance, how a girl should behave, how she should dress, who she should be allowed to see, to

marry, etc.

Families closely guard their daughters’ sexuality and virginity in order to protect the family

honour. Girls who have relationships or become pregnant outside of marriage are shamed for

bringing dishonour on their family. 3

TRADITION

Child marriage is a traditional practice that in many places happens simply because it has

happened for generations. In some communities, when girls start to menstruate, they become

women in the eyes of the community. Marriage is therefore the next step towards giving a girl

her status as a wife and mother. Harmful traditional practices can be linked to each other. In

2 Save the Children UK, Rights of Passage, 2003 3 American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and al., Child, Early and Force Marriage and the Control of Sexuality and Reproduction, 2015

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southern Ethiopia for instance, child marriage usually follows the practice of female genital

mutilation/cutting, which is considered a rite of passage to womanhood. 4

Traditional practices often go unquestioned because they have been part of a community’s life

and identity for a very long time. But as Graça Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela, says,

traditions are made by people and people can unmake them.

POVERTY

More than half of girls from the poorest families in the developing world are married as

children. 5 Where poverty is acute, families and sometimes girls themselves believe that marriage

will be a solution to secure their future.

Giving a daughter in marriage allows parents to reduce family expenses by ensuring they have

one less person to feed, clothe and educate. Families may also see investing in their son’s

education as more worthwhile investment. In some cases marriage of a daughter is a way to

repay debts, manage disputes, or settle social, economic and political alliances.In communities

where a dowry or ‘bride price’ is paid, it is often welcome income for poor families; in those

where the bride’s family pays the groom a dowry, they often have to pay less money if the bride

is young and uneducated.

INSECURITY

Many parents marry their daughters young because they feel it is in her best interest, often to

ensure her safety in areas where girls are at high risk of harassment and physical or sexual

assault.

Child marriage can increase in humanitarian crises, such as in conflict or after a natural disaster.

When families face even greater hardship, they may see child marriage as a coping mechanism in

the face of poverty and violence. Nine out of the ten countries with the highest child marriage

rates are considered fragile states. 6

WHAT IS THE IMPACT

Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18.

  • 4 Young Lives, Child Marriage and Female Circumcisions (FGM/C): Evidence from Ethiopia, Policy brief 21, July 2014.

  • 5 ICRW and Girls Not Brides, Taking action to address child marriage: the role of different sectors: Economic Growth and Workforce Development brief, 2015.

  • 6 As defined by the OCED

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That is 23 girls every minute married off too soon, their personal development and wellbeing

put at risk. Child marriage is a human rights violation that we must end to achieve a better future

for all.

Child brides face huge challenges because they are married as children.

Isolated and with limited freedom, married girls often feel disempowered. They are deprived of

their fundamental rights to health, education and safety.

Child brides are neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers. They

face more risks of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth,

contracting HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence. With little access to education and

economic opportunities, they and their families are more likely to live in poverty.

Communities and nations feel the impact of child marriage.

Systems that undervalue the contribution and participation of girls and women limit their own

possibilities for growth, stability and transformation.

CONFLICT AND HUMANITARIAN CRISES

GIRLS ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO CHILD MARRIAGE IN HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Millions of lives are torn apart by conflict, displacement and natural disasters. But girls are hit

particularly hard. Persisting gender inequality, increased poverty and insecurity, as well as lack

of education put them at greater risk of child marriage in those times.

PARENTS SEE CHILD MARRIAGE AS A WAY TO RELIEVE ECONOMIC DIFFICULTIES

Poor families who lose their jobs or their lands during a crisis can see child marriage as a way

out of poverty. Marriage reduces the number of mouths to feed, and can even provide extra

income if there is a bride price.

PARENTS BELIEVE THAT CHILD MARRIAGE WILL PROTECT GIRLS FROM

VIOLENCE

During a crisis, girls are often more at risk of physical or sexual assault. Displaced from their

homes, they see their social networks disappear and lose access to protection.Some parents view

marriage as a way to keep them safe or protect their virginity and the family’s honour. They

are often unaware of the violence that girls will face within marriage.For example, child

marriage is the most common form of violence reported by young Sudanese and Central African

refugee girls.

CHILD MARRIAGE IS USED AS A WEAPON OF WAR

Girls and women are often used as “weapons” of war in conflict, abused or sold into prostitution

under the guise of “marriage”.In Iraq and Syria, terrorist groups have abducted Yazidi girls to be

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sold into marriage. In Somalia and Nigeria, girls were abducted from school and forced to marry

fighters of the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab.

THE LINKS BETWEEN CHILD MARRIAGE AND NATURAL DISASTERS

Floods and droughts disrupt girls’ lives. They threaten their access to school and push their

families into poverty thus adding to the risk of child marriage.In Bangladesh and northeast

India, floods made poverty worse and closed schools, leading families to see marriage as an

alternative for their daughter.In Somaliland and Mozambique, drought pushes families to marry

off their daughters so they no longer have to feed them.

WE MUST DO MORE TO PROTECT GIRLS DURING HUMANITARIAN SETTINGS

Involve girls at risk and girls who are married from the beginning, and make sure

programmes meet their needs.

Incorporate child marriage as a key issue into other aspects of a humanitarian response.

Offer alternatives to marriage by providing safe spaces and services to girls, and work

with communities to change norms around child marriage.

Evaluate programmes on child marriage. Invest in research to understand how to adapt

solutions to the local context.

Child marriage is caused by factors poverty, gender inequality, insecurity that worsen

in times of crisis. To offer a long term solution to child marriage, humanitarian and

development efforts must complement each other.

EDUCATION

While it is not clear if child marriage causes school dropout or vice versa, it is clear that child

marriage often means the end to a girl’s formal education.

WHEN A GIRL GETS MARRIED, SHE IS OFTEN EXPECTED TO DROP OUT OF

SCHOOL

Girls tend to drop out of school during the preparatory time before the marriage or shortly

after.Her new role of wife or mother often comes with the expectation that she will take care of

the home, the children and the extended family.

WHEN A GIRL IS OUT OF SCHOOL, SHE BECOMES MORE VULNERABLE TO CHILD

MARRIAGE

Many girls aren’t in education because schools are inaccessible or expensive, or because parents

don’t see the value of education, either because it is of poor quality or not seen as relevant to

their lives. With few alternatives, parents often see marriage as the best option for their daughter.

Girls who have no education are three times as likely to marry by 18 compared to girls with

secondary or higher education.

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RETURNING TO SCHOOL CAN BE DIFFICULT FOR MARRIED GIRLS

There are practical and legal obstacles on married girls’ way back to school. Girls who live far or

have children to look after may not be able to resume their education. Sometimes, the stigma of

pregnancy keeps girls from returning to school. Some countries also forbid pregnant girls and

young mothers from returning to school.

EDUCATION IS A POWERFUL STRATEGY TO END CHILD MARRIAGE

Education can be one of the most powerful tools to enable girls to avoid child marriage and fulfil

their potential. The longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to be married before the age

of 18 and have children during her teenage years. When girls have access to safe, quality

secondary education, the benefits are widely felt. Educated girls develop skills, knowledge and

confidence to make informed decisions including if, when and whom to marry.Being in school

also supports the perception that girls are still children and are therefore not of a suitable age to

marry.

BUT EDUCATION ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH TO END CHILD MARRIAGE

We need to address the root causes of child marriage: gender inequality, poverty, insecurity, and

the lack of economic and social opportunities for girls.

HEALTH

CHILD MARRIAGE HAS DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES ON A GIRL’S HEALTH

It encourages the initiation of sexual activity at an age when girls’ bodies are still developing and

when they know little about their rights or their sexual and reproductive health.Neither

physically or emotionally ready to give birth, child brides face higher risks of death in childbirth

and are particularly vulnerable to pregnancy-related injuries such as obstetric fistula.

Once married, girls face intense social pressure to prove their fertility. Often married to older

husbands, it can be extremely difficult for girls to assert their wishes, particularly when it comes

to negotiating safe sexual practices and the use of family planning methods.As a result, they are

more likely to experience frequent and early pregnancies, which may cause a range of long-term

health complications and, in some cases, death.

PREVENTING CHILD MARRIAGE IS KEY TO IMPROVING MATERNAL HEALTH

Research shows that child marriage and adolescent pregnancy are intrinsically linked. 90% of

adolescent births in the developing world are to girls who are already married or in an union. In

most cases, child marriage is a driver of early pregnancy; in other cases, marriage follows a girl’s

often unwanted pregnancy. When a girl marries as a child, the health of her children suffers too.

The children of child brides are at substantially greater risk of perinatal infant mortality and

morbidity, and stillbirths and newborn deaths are 50% higher in mothers under the age of 20 than

in women who give birth later. There is little doubt that reducing child marriage will help

to improve the health of millions of girls and women, as well as their children’s.

ADOLESCENT GIRLS’ HEALTH MUST BE A PRIORITY

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In spite of this, few health services are tailored to the particular needs and circumstances of child

brides, who are hard to reach and are often unaware that services are in place to support them.

It is critical for maternal health and family planning programmes to reach adolescent girls,

including married girls, and tailor services to their needs.Health services can also be an entry

point to other services, such as formal and informal education, skills-building and income-

generating activities, which can provide married girls with life-changing opportunities.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE

CHILD MARRIAGE IS A MAJOR VIOLATION OF GIRLS’ HUMAN RIGHTS

Child marriage harms girls’ rights to health, education, equality and a life free from violence and

exploitation. These rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms

of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and other international and regional human rights

instruments.

CHILD MARRIAGE CAN SOMETIMES BE A FORM OF SLAVERY

Women and girls represent 71% of modern slavery victims, while children represent 25% of

them 7

According to Anti-Slavery International, child marriage can be a form of slavery when:

A child is forced to marry without full or informed consent.

Once in the marriage, a child is forced to do domestic chores and/or to engage in non-

consensual sexual relations.

A child is controlled through abuse and threats.

A child cannot realistically leave the marriage.

The younger the child, the more vulnerable they are to slavery. However, child marriage isn’t

always a form of slavery.

CHILD MARRIAGE CAN LEAD TO EXPLOITATION AND TRAFFICKING

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, most victims of child commercial sexual exploitation child

prostitution were married before the age of 15. The route to exploitation starts when they

run away from abusive marriages. 8

In the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, some families arrange their

daughters’ marriages to older foreigners in exchange for money.

7 UN International Labour Office, Walk Free Foundation, Forced labour and forced marriage, 2017. 8 ECPAT International, “Overview: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Africa: Developments, progress, challenges and recommended strategies for civil society”, 2013.

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In the Solomon Islands, children are reportedly sold for marriage to foreign workers of

logging and mining companies.

In Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan parents are allowed to sell or give away their

daughters for marriage to settle debts.

In India, child marriage is used by traffickers to send girls from one place to another.

They offer favourable conditions no dowry or a cash reward to poor families to

arrange a marriage.

In Indonesia, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh, Mut’a marriages (“pleasure

marriage”) are temporary marriages that leave girls alone at the term of the contract,

making them more vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

In Indonesia, the practice of merarik involves kidnapping girls from poor families, which

is increasingly used to submit girls to sexual slavery and trafficking.

In China, construction workers unable to afford high wedding costs are reportedly

paying brokers to procure girls from Myanmar. 9

There have also been reports of Vietnamese girls being kidnapped and sold into marriage

in China. 10

POVERTY

POVERTY IS ONE OF THE MAIN DRIVERS OF CHILD MARRIAGE

Child brides are more likely to be poor and to remain poor. Where poverty is acute, giving a

daughter in marriage allows parents to reduce their expenses: one less person to feed, clothe and

educate.In communities where economic transactions are integral to the marriage process, a

dowry or “bride price” is often welcome income for poor families. Families sometimes marry

their daughters at a younger age to avoid more expensive dowries which the marriage of older

girls often demands.

CHILD MARRIAGE TRAPS GIRLS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN A CYCLE OF POVERTY

Girls who marry young are less likely to receive the education they need to live a healthy and

empowered life. Without an education, they are less able to earn an income to lift themselves and

9 All examples from ECPAT, Thematic Report: Unrecognised sexual abuse and exploitation of children in child, early and forced marriage, October 2015. 10 The Guardian, “I hope you’re ready to get married”: in search of Vietnam’s kidnapped brides, 26 August 2017; and CNN, Vietnamese girls smuggled into China and sold as child brides, 19 April 2016.

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their families out of poverty.In many communities, economic opportunities are severely limited,

especially for girls and women. Families therefore see little value in educating their daughters

and instead marry them off to fulfil the role of a wife and mother.Child brides also have to

perform much unpaid work in the home, such as cleaning, cooking and caring for their husbands,

in-laws and children.

THIS CYCLE OF POVERTY IS NOT INEVITABLE

By not marrying early and staying in school, a girl is more likely to be healthier and wealthier

and to reinvest her income into her family.An extra year of primary education for girls boost

their future earnings by 15%, a figure that only increases with the level of education.

STRATEGIES TO END CHILD MARRIAGE AND BOOST ECONOMIC GROWTH

Contexts where girls and women are valued and productive members of society have lower rates

of child marriage. Keeping girls in school and building their life and livelihood skills can not

only reduce child marriage, but also increase the economic productivity of married girls. Here

are some ways to simultaneously address child marriage and boost economic growth:

Provide families with financial incentives to keep girls in school and not marry them

Allow girls to make the transition from primary to secondary school so they have the

potential to earn a safe and adequate income later on in life

Teach girls how to be financially literate for example, how to be financially savvy,

entrepreneurial, budget and save

Target girls at risk of child marriage and already married adolescent in youth workforce

development programmes

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS)

EVERY YEAR, 12 MILLION GIRLS ARE MARRIED BEFORE THEIR 18 TH BIRTHDAY.

Child marriage perpetuates poverty, inequality and insecurity and is an obstacle to global

development. A lack of attention to child marriage undermined the achievement of many of the

Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015). Since then, the international community has

learned a lot.

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OVER 190 COUNTRIES HAVE ADOPTED THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

(SDGS) AND COMMITTED TO ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE BY 2030.

For the first time, target 5.3 aims to “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and

forced marriage”. This is an important tool to drive action, hold governments to account for their

commitments to girls, and track progress on ending child marriage globally.

ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE IS CRITICAL TO ACHIEVING HALF OF THE SDGS.

GOAL 1: NO POVERTY

Child brides are more likely to be poor and to stay poor

Girls from poor families are two and a half times more likely to marry before 18 than girls from

wealthier families. Child marriage keeps girls poor by depriving them of opportunities, education

and access to paid employment. When girls have access to economic opportunities, they can plan

a more prosperous future for themselves, their families and their communities!

GOAL 2: ZERO HUNGER

Child brides and their children are more likely to be malnourished

Families with little food may marry their daughters in order to have one mouth less to feed. Child

brides usually suffer higher rates of malnutrition, due to early and frequent pregnancies.Babies

born to girls younger than 15 are more likely to die before their 5 th birthday, suffer from

malnutrition and experience stunting.

GOAL 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELLBEING

Child marriage threatens girls’ health and that of their children

Child brides are under a lot of pressure to have children. Early pregnancy puts their health at

risk: every year, 70,000 adolescent girls in developing countries die of causes related to

pregnancy and child birth. Child marriage can lead to poor mental health, including feelings of

isolation, depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviours. Ending child marriage will improve

girls’ health and wellbeing throughout their lives!

GOAL 4: INCLUSIVE AND QUALITY EDUCATION

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Child marriage usually marks the end of a girl’s education

Marriage limits a girl’s ability to go to school, learn new skills and put the ones she has to use.

Being out of school puts girls at risk. Girls with no education are three times more likely to

marry before 18 compared to girls with a secondary or higher education. Education is one of the

most powerful tools to end child marriage and help girls succeed in life!

VIOLENCE AGAINST GIRLS

CHILD MARRIAGE PUTS GIRLS AT RISK OF VIOLENCE THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES

Child marriage is a form of violence which disproportionally affects girls. One in three women

and girls experience violence in their lifetime.While parents often marry their daughters as a way

to protect them from harm, this belief is mistaken. Child marriage expose girls to intimate

partner violence, including sexual, physical, psychological and emotional violence.Research

suggests that ending child marriage would reduce intimate partner violence by more than 10% in

Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda.

CHILD MARRIAGE AND PHYSICAL VIOLENCE

Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to face violence from an intimate partner throughout

their life. The greater the age difference with their husbands, the more likely they are to

experience violence. Globally, girls who marry before the age of 15 are almost 50% more likely

to have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner than girls who married after 18.

Child brides are also more likely to believe that a man is justified in beating his wife. Globally,

44% of girls aged 15-19 think a husband or partner is justified in hitting or beating his wife or

partner.

CHILD MARRIAGE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Child brides are more likely to describe their first sexual experience as forced. Due to the age

difference and the power dynamics, they often struggle to assert their wishes to their husbands or

negotiate safe and consensual sex. Child brides are more likely to contract HIV. In Uganda, the

HIV prevalence rate for girls 15-19 is higher for married girls (89%) than unmarried girls (66%).

CHILD MARRIAGE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE

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Child brides are often under a lot of pressure from their husbands and families, keeping them

from making their own decisions about their lives and bodies. Sexual violence and early

pregnancy also have lasting effects on girls’ mental health. In the United States, women who

were child brides were three times more likely to develop an antisocial personality disorder than

those who married as adults.

HOW CAN WE END CHILD MARRIAGE?

In recent years child marriage has gained increasing prominence on international and national

development agendas. Today, we have a unique opportunity to act on this momentum and

accelerate our efforts to help change the lives of girls and young women all over the world.

Ending child marriage requires work across all sectors and at all levels. It requires us to

understand the complex drivers behind the practice in different contexts and adapt our

interventions accordingly. Ending child marriage also requires increased, targeted investments

from both international donors and governments in high prevalence countries. The funding that is

currently available is nowhere near large enough to match the scale of child marriage worldwide.

EMPOWER GIRLS

Working directly with girls to give them the opportunity to build skills and knowledge,

understand and exercise their rights and develop support networks, is an important part of our

efforts to end child marriage. Using an empowerment approach can lead to positive outcomes for

girls and their families by supporting girls to become agents of change, helping them envisage

what alternative roles could look like in their communities and ultimately helping them to forge

their own pathway in life

SAFE SPACE PROGRAMMES

Safe space programmes which offer a varied curriculum covering life skills, health and financial

literacy can provide girls with an opportunity to build their skills, learn and meet friends and

mentors in an informal setting and learn about the services they can access in their community.

Safe space programmes can successfully build girls’ self-confidence, agency and self-efficacy,

which they need to thrive. They can provide a good alternative for girls who do not have access

to formal education such as married girls. Having a safe regular meeting place allows girls to

meet with peers and share experiences which can reduce their sense of isolation and

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vulnerability. Some of these programmes have economic empowerment components, such as

conditional cash transfers, or the provision of a goat or chicken, which have proven successful in

increasing the age of marriage.

SUPPORTING YOUNG PEOPLE TO BE AGENTS OF CHANGE

Supporting young people to be agents of change can be an effective and empowering process in

and of itself. Many organisations work with young people so they can advocate for change as

well as helping to inform the design of programmes that directly benefit their peers. Youth

groups, encouraging dialogue between youth and community leaders, and building the capacity

of young people are all ways of supporting young people to be champions of change in their own

communities.

MOBILISE FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES

Many families and communities see child marriage as a deeply rooted practice which has been

part of their culture for generations. Whether the practice is cited as cultural or religious, it is

often driven by inequitable gender norms such as an emphasis on protecting a girls’ (or her

family’s) honour by controlling her sexuality. For change to happen, the values and norms which

support the practice of child marriage need to shift. Working with families and the wider

community to raise awareness of the harmful consequences of child marriage can change

attitudes and reduce the acceptance among those who make the decision to marry girls as

children.

WORKING WITH MEN AND BOYS

Working with men and boys is a critical part of our efforts to end child marriage. In many

communities it is the men who hold the power and make the decisions. Interventions targeting

fathers, brothers, husbands and future husbands are important in helping men and boys reflect on

the status quo and see the benefits of a community which values and supports girls and women to

fulfil their potential.

RELIGIOUS AND TRADITIONAL LEADERS

Religious and traditional leaders, too, have the potential to play a key role in speaking out against

child marriage and changing community attitudes. In communities where religious and

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traditional leaders play a prominent role in decision-making or influencing the prevailing norms,

targeted interventions can support them to become positive advocates for change who fully

understand the implications of child marriage for girls and their families.

COMMUNITY LEVEL CHANGE

Community level change underpins all of our efforts in preventing child marriage and mitigating

the harmful effects for married girls. Without change at this level, the day-to-day reality for girls

all over the world will remain the same. At the grassroots, organisations are driving change by

campaigning, holding community conversations and using a variety of creative techniques such

as street theatre and art to reflect on the practice of child marriage and communicate its harmful

impacts for girls and their communities.

CHANGING NORMS AT SCALE

Changing norms at scale is integral to the process of change and a growing number of

organisations are using mass media campaigns and other innovative methods such as radio, TV

and digital media to raise awareness of girls’ rights and the impact of child marriage. Messages

that promote new norms, role models and positive deviants show positive signs of being an

effective way to change attitudes and behaviours around the value of girls and women.

PROVIDE SERVICES

Addressing child marriage and supporting the needs of married girls requires us to consider the

economic and structural drivers which act as a barrier to ending child marriage. The most

vulnerable girls who have no access to a quality education, healthcare or child protection

mechanisms, are at a much greater risk of child marriage than girls who do. Ending child

marriage requires us to review the services available to girls as well as asking how they reinforce

one another and how they can be strengthened.

ACCESSIBLE, HIGH QUALITY AND SAFE SCHOOLING

Increasing access to accessible, high quality and safe schooling is a critical strategy in ending

child marriage and ensuring married girls have the opportunity to complete their education.

Education builds knowledge, opens new opportunities and can help to shift norms around the

value of girls in the community. The very act of girls attending school can reinforce to the

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community that girls of school-going age are still children.

Keeping girls in school is an effective

way to prevent girls marrying but it is not enough. Girls need the support to make the transition

into secondary school. For married girls, it is important that schools encourage and support them

to continue their education in either an informal or formal setting such as being part of a safe

space programme, undertaking part-time, remote or vocational learning

HIGH QUALITY, YOUTH-FRIENDLY HEALTH SERVICES

Both unmarried and married girls need high quality, youth-friendly health services to live healthy

and safe lives. Many girls in the developing world have an unmet need for sexual reproductive

health care which can put them at risk of early pregnancy and contracting HIV and other STIs.

Girls need to know about their bodies as well as the types of services and healthcare available to

them. Making sure health services are youth-friendly and that girls are able to access care

without judgement and without male supervision is also important.

ADEQUATE CHILD PROTECTION MECHANISMS

Ensuring there are adequate child protection mechanisms in place is an important part of our

efforts to end child marriage. Establishing protocols on identifying the warning signs and

addressing the risks of child marriage is a key part of this work.Child protection services need to

be accessible via a number of channels, including education, healthcare providers, community

workers and the police. Working with service providers to build their capacity can help to ensure

that cases of child marriage in the community are responded to effectively.

ECONOMIC SECURITY

Girls and women also need to have economic security if they are to live safe, healthy and

empowered lives. Introducing economic incentives such as conditional cash transfers can help

encourage families to consider alternatives to child marriage by alleviating their economic

hardship and reframing the daughter as a valued part of the family rather than an economic

burden. Economic empowerment schemes such as microfinance or village savings and loan

schemes can help girls to support themselves and their families without having to be married.

Furthermore, ensuring girls have the opportunity to become financially literate and have the

ability to open and easily access a bank account (without male supervision) can help them save

in a secure way and become financially independent.

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ESTABLISH AND IMPLEMENT LAWS AND POLICIES

Laws and policies play an essential part in preventing child marriage. Many countries lack robust

legal and policy frameworks which can help to prevent the practice and support married girls. A

strong legal and policy system can provide an important backdrop for improvements in services,

changes in social norms and girls’ empowerment. However for change to be truly transformative,

governments must show strong political leadership by making the issue of national importance

and providing adequate financial resourcing across ministries to tackle the issue holistically.

STRENGTHENING, IMPLEMENTING AND RESOURCING LAWS AND POLICIES

Strengthening, implementing and resourcing laws and policies which prevent child marriage is

an important step towards recognising and upholding girls’ rights. While most countries legislate

for a minimum legal age of marriage, the age of marriage is often higher for men than it is for

women and many countries continue to have a legal age of marriage lower than in the UN

Convention on the Rights of the Child. Gender discrimination and loopholes in the law continue

to be rife especially when it comes to issues around parental consent, the right to own and inherit

property, separation and divorce and access to professional services and support. Furthermore,

many countries have a pluralistic legal system meaning customary law often contradicts and

overrides national law making enforcement difficult.

REGISTERING BIRTHS AND MARRIAGES

Registering births and marriages helps prevent child marriage by proving the age of a girl and

her partner and means that girls and women are able to seek financial and legal redress if the

marriage ends.

CHILD MARRIAGE & THE LAW

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR COUNTRIES TO SET 18 AS THE MINIMUM LEGAL AGE

OF MARRIAGE?

Laws that set a minimum age of marriage are an important way to safeguard boys and girls from

being married before they are ready.It is important that children are recognised in the law as

being children and that they are accorded the full protection of the law. Governments need to

have clear and consistent legislation that establishes 18 as the minimum age of marriage.

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Adequate safeguards must be in place to ensure that parental consent or other exceptions are not

used to force girls into marriage. The existence of laws that set a minimum age for marriage is an

important tool that helps those working to dissuade families and communities from marrying off

their daughters as children.

DO ALL COUNTRIES HAVE A MINIMUM AGE OF MARRIAGE?

Most countries around the world have laws that set a minimum age of marriage, usually at age

18. However, many countries provide exceptions to the minimum age of marriage, upon parental

consent or authorisation of the court. Other exceptions allow customary or religious laws that set

lower minimum ages of marriage to take precedence over national law. Such exceptions

undermine the efficacy of legal protections against child marriage. According to a 2013 mapping

of minimum age of marriage laws by the World Policy Analysis Center, 93 countries legally

allow girls to marry before the age of 18 with parental consent.

Legal frameworks can reinforce, rather than challenge, gender inequalities. 11 The World Policy

Analysis Center found that 54 countries allow for girls to marry between one and three years

younger than boys.

WHY SHOULD 18 BE THE MINIMUM AGE OF MARRIAGE?

Girls Not Brides members believe that 18 should be the minimum age for marriage in line with

international human rights standards. Setting the minimum age of marriage at 18 provides an

objective rather than subjective standard of maturity, which safeguards a child from being

married when they are not physically, mentally or emotionally ready. Why allow children to

marry at an age when, for example, they do not have the right to vote or enter into other contracts

recognised in law? The most widely accepted definition for a child is 18, in line with the

Convention on the Rights of the Child. A minimum age of marriage of 18 will also help to

ensure that children are able to give their free and full consent to marry and have the minimum

level of maturity needed before marrying.

WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL LAW SAY ABOUT CHILD MARRIAGE?

11 World Policy Analysis Centre, Changing Children’s Chances: New Findings on Child Policy Worldwide, 2013

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Child marriage or marriage without the free and full consent of both spouses is a human rights

violation and is not in line with several international and regional agreements, including:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage, and Registration of

Marriage

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa to the African Charter on Human and

Peoples’ Rights (Also known as ‘The Maputo Protocol’)

African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child

Inter-American Convention on Human Rights

Many international instruments call for a uniform age of marriage and emphasise the importance

of free, full and informed consent to marriage. The CRC recommends that the minimum age of

marriage be 18 years, while CEDAW obligates States to ensure, on the basis of equality between

men and women, the right to freely choose a spouse and enter into marriage only with free and

full consent.

HOW USEFUL ARE INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL STANDARDS ON MINIMUM

AGE OF MARRIAGE IN PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM CHILD MARRIAGE?

International and regional agreements prohibiting child marriage set standards that governments

should adhere to in protecting children from being married before they are ready. These

standards also act as an accountability measure: governments have to report to the committees

that oversee them about how they are implementing the standards. They can be used to hold

governments accountable for failure to implement and enforce their obligations related to child

marriage under these conventions.

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN ENFORCING LAWS THAT PROHIBIT CHILD

MARRIAGE?

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Even where strong legal frameworks exist, their enforcement is often weak. Here are some

common problems and possible solutions.

Age of marriage laws contradict each other. Solutions: Define a child as an individual under

the age of 18, without exception. Set the minimum legal age of marriage for both males and

females at 18. Harmonise all legal systems (civil, criminal, family and customary) to that

standard.

Child marriages happen outside of the law. Solutions: Work with religious and traditional

leaders to raise awareness of the law, the harmful impact of child marriage and alternatives for

girls. Make sure they ask for proof of age before a wedding and report child marriage cases to

the relevant authorities.

Birth and marriage registration is weak or non-existent. Solutions: Make birth and marriage

registration mandatory and free (or low cost). Make sure there is an effective civil registration

system by investing in the infrastructure and training of local authorities.

Different religions or traditions’ position on child marriage are

misinterpreted. Solutions: Meet and create space for respectful dialogues with religious and

traditional leaders. Promote alternative interpretations of religious texts to show that no religion

promotes child marriage. Make religious and traditional leaders aware of the negative impact of

child marriage.

Child marriage happens in rural areas with few resources to implement the law. Solutions:

Create or strengthen child protection systems. Support legal aid systems and services.

Underage victims of child marriage struggle to take their case to court, due to their age,

knowledge or resources. Solutions: Train local law enforcement authorities to respond to child

marriage and gender-based violence cases. Strengthen access to free legal services for victims of

child marriage.

IS MINIMUM AGE OF MARRIAGE LEGISLATION ENOUGH TO END CHILD

MARRIAGE? WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED?

As well as having strong and enforceable minimum age of marriage legislation, it is imperative

that to have strong supporting legislation which protects women and girls’ rights. This would

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include, for example, laws related to marriage and divorce, consent, harmful traditional practices

(e.g. dowry, bride price and female genital mutilation/cutting), citizenship, property, inheritance,

alimony, custody of children, sexual and gender-based violence (including marital rape), child

labour, slavery, child trafficking and sex trafficking among others. However, law reform is only

one part of the solution. In order to prevent child marriage, a holistic and comprehensive

approach must be adopted which addresses the root causes of child marriage.

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CONCLUSION

Child Marriages are certainly an essential area of concern .It is something which has to be looked

into deeply. India is a country whose rate of child marriages is quite high.

It also affects society

as a whole since child marriage reinforces a cycle of poverty and perpetuates gender

discrimination, illiteracy and malnutrition as well as high infant and maternal mortality rates. It is

imperative that all the schemes are implemented by the government. This is a matter of huge

concern, where lives of people, particularly young girls are involved. Both girls and boys are

affected by child marriage, but girls are affected in much larger numbers and with greater

intensity. Child marriage can be seen across the country but it is far higher in rural than in urban

areas. Girls from poorer families, scheduled castes and tribes, and with lower education levels

are more likely to marry at a younger age. Although child marriage is declining, the rate of

decline is slow. Broad, multi-faceted strategies are needed to target different aspects of the

problem, including deep-rooted social norms and behaviours, the perceived low value of girls,

limited access to education, exposure to violence, restricted freedom of movement and economic

vulnerability.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BOOKS:

S.R. Myneni, Sociology ( Allahabad Law Agency, Faridabad. 2008)

WEB RESOURCES:

https://girlsnotbrides.org accessed 26 th October 2018 7:26am

www.unicef.in accessed 26 th October 2018 7:27 am

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