Hard fact: India still accounts for one-third of world’s child brides

Citing serious concerns, the report has also stated that if the current pace of efforts to end the practice of child marriages globally continues, over 9 million girls in the world will still marry in
Child marriage (Representational Image)
Child marriage (Representational Image)

NEW DELHI: Even after remarkable progress towards ending child marriages, India still is ranked 5th among the South Asian countries. It is estimated that 1 in 3 of the world’s child brides live in India and over half of the child marriages are and have been in five states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and MP and the rest in other states. UP is home to the largest number of child brides. 

As per the 2023 UNICEF data report titled ‘Is an End to Child Marriage within Reach?’, an estimated 640 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood and 45 per cent of them live in different countries of South Asia including India. 

“India alone accounts for one-third of the world’s child brides and the share is equal to the next 10 countries namely Egypt, Iran, Mexico, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia, China and Bangladesh combined, which account for a further third. The remaining third are from more than 109 countries,” the report states. 

At least 42 per cent of girls were married before turning 18 in West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura compared to 1 per cent in Lakshadeep. The report claims that the decline in the level of child marriage is not at a fast enough pace to reach the target of eliminating the practice by 2030 both in India and the world. It has stated that the overall progress would need to be nearly 20 times faster to reach the target. 

Citing serious concerns, the report has also stated that if the current pace of efforts to end the practice of child marriages globally continues, over 9 million girls in the world will still marry in 2030. “At the current pace, the world is at least 300  years away from ending child marriage”, the report claimed. Globally, comprising India and other South Asian countries, over 68 million child marriages were averted in the last 25 years. 

Girls in rural areas more vulnerable 
Nearly one in four young women in India was married or went into a union before adulthood, the report says. It reasoned out that girls who live in rural areas and belong to economically weaker households are at a greater risk of getting married before reaching adulthood 

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