New Delhi: Nearly 103 million Indians living as on 1 March, 2011 were married as children, i.e. before reaching the age of 18, of this 85.2 million were girls, according to the report “Elimination of Child Marriage in India: Progress and Prospects” released by ActionAid India here today.
Girl child marriages account for 30.2 per cent of the currently married female population of the country and the elimination of this alone could add 5 per cent (or 27 million) more literate women and increase India’s GDP by 1.7 per cent. As per the report more than 30 per cent girl child marriages in the world occur in India. The prevalence rate of child marriages in our country is higher than that of several African countries including Somalia, Nigeria, Eritrea and Zambia, says the report brought out by Child Rights Focus, a knowledge activist initiative of ActionAid India.
While releasing the report Shabana Azmi, celebrated film actor, social worker and Chairperson of ActionAid India said, “Patriarchy is at the root of child marriage, and patriarchy has to be tackled completely to eliminate child marriage. Spreading education and building confidence amongst girls enables them to resist child marriage and chart their own lives.”
“Child marriage is not only a human rights or gender issue; it has serious consequences on India’s demographic, health, education and economic progress. Women are half of the population and if we cannot combat child marriage, it may increase extent of unhealthy and unskilled labour force that can be great hindrance to the economic prospects of the country which is aspiring to grow in double digits,” says Dr. Srinivas Goli, Assistance Professor, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and the author of the report.
“The prevalence of child marriage can be seen across all social groups including in urban areas, thus a strict correlation cannot be drawn between low income, residing in backward areas and child marriage. The report shows that despite the reduction in the rate of child marriage the numbers are still high with more than 30 per cent being India’s share of girl child marriages in the world. Apart from strengthening the implementation of laws, it is also important to strengthen the agency of girls as well as boys to resist and eliminate child marriage.” says Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid India.
Editor’s Note ? India is Contributing 33 per cent of total child brides in the world. ? Child marriages in India (103 million) are more than the total population of Philippines (100 million) and Germany (80.68 million). ? In every hour, nearly 150 child marriages are occurring in India. ? Out of every 28 child marriages occurring per minute in the world, more than two take place in India. ? Elimination of Girl Child marriages can avoid 27,000 neonatal deaths, 55,000 infant deaths, 160,000 child deaths ? Elimination of Girl Child marriages can add 5per cent more literates (27 million women) 1.7 per cent and of GDP (accounts to nearly 1899.65 billion INR/ $29.22 billion) ***Ends**