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In 2006, India passed The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act which prohibits girls from getting married under the age of 18 and boys from getting married under the age of 21.
However, this did not entirely end child marriage.
India has the largest number of child brides in the world: 223 million child brides. Roughly 23% of women in India are married under the age of 18. Child marriage affects boys as well, but it affects girls exponentially more.
So why does child marriage happen?
Child marriage is something that has become integrated into India’s social norms. Oftentimes, when one family sees someone else in their community marrying their child, they feel socially obligated to marry their child too. Some families also devalue women and view them as an economic burden, so they marry their girls off as soon as possible to avoid paying for her education and care.
Child marriage affects children negatively in numerous ways.
If a child, particularly a girl is married, they are less likely to attend school, furthering the possibility that they will live in poverty or lack financial independence.
They are also more likely to be a victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and emotional trauma.
They are more likely to not have proper access to birth control
They are more likely to have an early pregnancy or die from childbirth.
They are more likely to develop AIDS and other sexual health problems.
As stated earlier, there is currently a law in India that prevents child marriage, however child marriage continues to exist, especially in rural areas. Investing in a child’s education is truly imperative as there is a direct link between children staying in school longer and a decrease in child marriages. Furthermore, if children were to stay in school they are more likely to have a higher paying job and not live in poverty.
There are a number of grass-root organizations who work with communities in India to convince them not to marry off their children and advocate for child welfare. CRY funds and works closely with these organizations, providing them with the much needed support.
Please consider donating as much as you can to this campaign.
Let’s work together to end child marriage once and for all.
“In serving the best interests of our children, we serve the best interests of all humanity” – Carol Bellamy, American non-profit executive and politician.
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