India accounts for about 33 percent of the world’s child marriages, with nearly 103 million Indians married under the age of 18, Indian local media reported on Monday.
A significant 83 percent of the 103 million child marriages were of girl children, with the number reaching 85 million, according to a report released by the non-profit organization ActionAid India in July.
The report “Eliminating Child Marriage in India: Progress and Prospects” mainly used data in the Census 2011 to analyze child marriage in the country.
Statistics show that nearly 150 child marriages happen every hour in India. The number of child marriages exceeds the total population of the Philippines, the world’s 12th largest country in population.
Child brides accounted for 30.2 percent of the total married female population in India, the report said.
Although 75 percent of the total child marriages occurred in rural areas, and seven states contributed to 70 percent of the total number. Poverty is not the only cause for the issue. The prevalence of child marriages in India arises out of old traditions and customs.
Shabana Azmi, chairperson of ActionAid India, told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that patriarchy was at the root of child marriage, which needs to be tackled to eliminate child marriage.
In India, the patriarchal notion of marrying the girl as a virgin at a young age prevails and serves for the aim of protecting family honor.
Srinivas Goli, scholar and author of the report, told the PTI that “India needs to realize that child marriage is not just a human rights or gender issue. It is a huge demographic, health, education and economic issue.”
“If we cannot eliminate child marriages, it will become a huge hindrance to India’s economic prospects in the form of unhealthy and unskilled workforce,” Goli said.
Elimination of child marriages could avoid 27,000 neonatal deaths, 55,000 infant deaths and 160,000 child deaths, according to the report. (XinhuaNet)