Every third child bride in world is Indian: Report
India is still to come on track when it comes to safeguarding the rights of children if the disturbing figures of minor girls forced into matrimony are anything to go by.
Believe it or not, every third child bride in the world is an Indian and the country is home to more than 30 per cent girl child marriages. (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)
The revelations by a recent report of child rights NGO Actionaid India speak volumes of how the country with little fear of the child marriage prevention laws continues to be plagued by a patriarchal mindset of the medieval times in the 21st century.
Child brides account for 30.2 per cent of the currently married female population of the country and elimination of this alone could contribute 5 per cent to female literacy or 27 million more literate women. This in turn could increase the country’s GDP by 1.7 per cent, observes the report — Elimination of Child Marriage in India: Progress and Prospects — released this week by Actionaid India here. Elimination of girl child marriages can avoid 27,000 neonatal deaths, 55,000 infant deaths, 1.6 lakh child deaths along with bringing down maternal mortality which is caused due to complications in teenage pregnancies.
In the course, India may move closer to its ‘Millennium Development Goals’ of child and maternal health at a time when it contributes 22 per cent to 6.3 million annual under-five deaths globally and is still to achieve its maternal mortality rate of 103.
Going by the report, nearly 103 million Indians living as on March 1, 2011 were married as children, i.e. before reaching the age of 18. Of this, 85.2 million were girls.
A perusal of the new set of upsetting findings brings out that every hour nearly 150 child marriages are taking place in the country. Of the every 28 child marriages per minute in the world, at least two take place in India.
With the country’s share to the global figures standing at 33 per cent, the prevalence rate of child marriages is higher in India than that of several African countries, including Somalia, Nigeria, Eritrea and Zambia, as per the report.
Child marriages in India (103 million) are more than the total population of Philippines (100 million) and Germany (80.68 million).
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 it has to be tackled to eliminate child marriage. Spreading education and building confidence amongst girls enable them to resist child marriage and chart their own lives.”