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Curbing child marriages

, : Curbing child marriages. Yojana 31(11): 31-32

Demographers are interested in marriage age because women who marry early are exposed to conceptions through the most fecund years of their lives. Women who marry young are exposed comparatively to a longer duration and tend to shorten the intergenerational years, consequently influencing the fertility to be higher. In India, despite the law, child marriages occur in many states, more prevalent among the backward conservative communities. According to India's Child Marriage Restraint Act, a woman must be 18 to marry (a man 21), but in fact in 1981 the marriage age of females was 15. This young marriage age is substantiated by available survey and report data. For example, in a mass marriage solemnized at Wardha village in Vidisha district in 1981, there was not 1 of the 110 couples of the prescribed marriage age. 55 of the brides were below age 10 and 48 were between 10-12 years. Only 8 brides were older than 14 years. A survey conducted by the Population Research Center, Lucknow University, revealed that more than half of the females surveyed were married before age 15. The census data for 1981 provide the following information: 1.19 million or 2.63% of the total 45.18 million boys aged 10-14 years and 2.67 million or 6.59% of the total 40.49 million girls were married. Christians had the highest mean age at marriage followed by Sikhs and Jains, but all religious groups had shown an improvement in their age at marriage. Several factors are responsible for child marriage. Consequently, a multidimensional approach to dealing with the problem is needed. The way to bring about this change is through creating more job and educational opportunities for women.


PMID: 12280896

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