Child marriage is a global issue fuelled by gender inequality, poverty, social norms and insecurity, and has devastating consequences all over the world. High levels of child marriage reflect discrimination and lack of opportunities for women and girls in society. Despite various statutory provisions in India and initiatives like Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programmes, the progress is not very impressive. Nationwide Covid-19 Lockdown further deteriorated the scenario.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates suggest that each year, at least 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India, which makes it home to the largest number of child brides in the world – accounting for a third of the global total.
Child marriages happen within a social and economic context, embedded in a set of beliefs about the status of women and girls, and their role as wives and mothers. Associated with these are the reality of domestic labour and care work performed by women; a belief that girls need to marry early for safety and protection; and apprehensions about the risk to family honour or economic burden.
Drivers for social change like education, legal provisions and initiatives for creating awareness have still a lot to cover with respect to eliminiating girl child marriage. Moreover, it is a change that has to come from within.
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