The United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) stated on March 6, 2018 that India has seen a sharp decline in child marriages over the last ten years with only 27 per cent of girls getting married before 18 years in comparison to 47 per cent a decade back.
The decline in numbers in India has contributed significantly to a global decline in child marriages.
• The proportion of girls, who were married before turning 18 decreased by 15 per cent globally in the last decade, from 1 in 4 to approximately 1 in 5.
• Around 25 million child marriages were prevented globally in the last 10 years (2005-06 and 2015-16) with the largest reduction seen in South Asia with India being at the forefront.
• In fact, according to UNICEF, South Asia witnessed the largest decline in child marriages worldwide in the last 10 years.
• The risk of girls getting married as children dropped by more than a third in South Asia, from nearly 50 per cent to 30 per cent, largely due to the progress made in India.
According to the UN children’s agency, the factors that have played a huge role in the decline in child marriages include increasing rates of girl education, proactive government investments in adolescent girls and strong public awareness about the illegality of child marriage and the harm it causes.
Speaking on the decline UNICEF’s Principal Gender Advisor Anju Malhotra said that when a girl is forced to marry as a child, she faces immediate and lifelong consequences, as her odds of finishing school decrease while her odds of being abused by her husband and suffering complications during pregnancy increase.
Malhotra added that there also huge societal consequences and a higher risk of intergenerational cycles of poverty. “Given the life-altering impact, child marriage has on a young girl’s life, any reduction is welcome news, but we've got a long way to go,” she said.
Overall, the world has pledged to end the orthodox practice of child marriage by 2030.