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Child Marriage in India
As a long-standing societal issue in India, a recent study showed that approximately fifty percent of Indian women get married before reaching the legal marriageable age of 18. The term “child marriage” refers to people marrying before 18 years-of-age and has been increasingly viewed as a violation of human rights . Although the average age at the time of marriage among women in India is 20.2 years , it compared poorly when you compare it with that of developed economies.
The study conducted by Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was taken throughout six Indian states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu) between 2006 and 2008. Information was gathered from nearly 58,000 participants ages 15-29. Azad’s work deemed Bihar the most impacted state with 77 percent of women married before reaching 18-years-old .
Another study showed similar extremities in its results. Researchers analyzed data from a national family health survey that was conducted from 2005 to 2006 in India. The survey involved 22,807 Indian women who were between 20 and 24 years-of-age. Of these women, 22.6 percent were married before they were 16, 44.5 percent were married when they were between 16 and 17, and 2.6 percent were married before they turned 13 .
Pregnancy as a Result of Child Marriage:
This chronic problem facing India has lead to early pregnancies as well. Azad’s study showed that 47 percent of young women had their first pregnancy before they turned 18 as a result of early marriage. Another study performed by The Lancet, a worldwide medical journal, showed that nearly all the women who were married before they reached the legal age of 18 reported that they used no contraception before they had their first child .
The rise of pregnancy among these teenagers is bringing forth increasing problems in adolescent mothers; they are being faced with complications such as obstetric fistula . The dangers of being a young mother also increase the risk of death during childbirth. Girls 17 and under are two to four times more likely to face death during childbirth than that of a 20-year-old .
The ICRW (International Center for Research of Women) created the ‘International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009’. This is a bill that authorizes U.S. foreign aid to help young women with more educational options and career opportunities. The act establishes a multi-year effort to steer young women clear of child marriage. The act would require reports from the State Departments about the issue in their annual human rights report and necessitate more prevention programs .
- "Nearly 50 percent women get married before turning 18: study." Thaindian News 20 02 2010: n. pag. Web. 23 Feb 2010. 
- "Child Marriage." National Family Health Survey, India. Maharashtra: International Institute for Population, 2009. Web. 
- "High Prevalence of Child Marriage in India." Rueters 03 03 2010: n. pag. Web. 23 Feb 2010. 
- "Health Risks of Early Pregnancy." Population Reports. 15 10 1995. Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Web. 23 Feb 2010. 
- "Child Marriage Legislation." ICRW. 2009. ICRW, Web. 23 Feb 2010. 
Marrying Too Young UN Population Fund