Child marriage is a type of marriage in which either the boy or the girl or both are minors. A girl below 18 years of age and a boy less than 21 years is considered to be a minor. It is a violation of human rights whether it happens to a boy or a girl. ‘Child marriages happen only in India.’ This statement is a myth. As per a report by UNICEF, globally 36 percent of the women between the age group 20-24 years were married as minors. Evils of Child Marriage

Child marriage is the most prevalent form of girl child exploitation in India. At an age where they are still exploring themselves, they are forced to behave like matured adults and take charge of responsibilities. When they fail to perform at their tender age, they are either rebuked or abandoned by the family. Moreover, girls are separated from their friends and family. They are restricted within the walls of the house. They cannot interact much with their parents, peers, and neighbors. Most of them give up their education to take part in household work. They are taught to be obedient and submissive.

Young girls also become victims of sexual abuse and harassment. Neither can they insist their husband on taking precautions nor can they refuse his demand for physical relationship. This leads to premature pregnancy. It is estimated that around 14 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year. In most of the cases, both boy and girl are not aware of serious health risks like HIV/AIDS and other transmitted diseases.

In a country where around 26 percent of the population is below poverty line, parents opt for child marriages out of economic necessity. Minor girls are married to older men in lieu of money or land. Some parents see it as a way to protect their girls from lecherous eyes of landlords, prevent inter-caste affairs, and shift their burden on another person.

The government of India has enforced ‘The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 (PCMA)’ to make such marriages a legal offence. Simultaneously, many NGOs are working to make its followers aware of the evils of such marriages. Despite all the efforts, child marriages are still widely prevalent in many parts of the country, especially in rural areas. The only way to discourage such practice is to bring about a change in the outlook of people.