Child marriage occurs where either or both parties have not attained the age of majority, which in most countries is 18 years. This practice, represents gross violation of human rights, subjecting children to both physical and emotional distress. It denies children their rights to education(often they have to drop out of school to raise children) health and security, condemning its victims to poverty. more often than not, it involves wedding off underage girls to grown men, often men who are twice their age.
Child marriage in India is particularly prevalent despite the fact that it is illegal.it is reported to occur especially in the rural parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgar, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. According to the census conducted in 2001, 1.5 million girls who are under the age of 15 are already married. For instance in Rajasthan, most of the girls who are married off are no more than 4 or 5 years old.
Poverty is the main contributory factor to this vice. Statistics show that girls living in poor households are twice as likely to marry before the age of 18 than girls living in rich households. Most Indians, especially those residing in the rural areas survive on meager resources, as low as less than a dollar a day. They therefore marry off their daughters and consider it as an effective method of reducing the number of mouths to feed, plus the dowry is a welcome source of income for these families. On the other hand, early marriages of boys is regarded as a means of obtaining an additional hand to assist in household chores as well as in economic activities.
In addition, the education level is also a determinant, research shows that educated girls are less likely to get married as children, which lays emphasis on the need to educate children.
Child marriage has grave consequences; research shows that girl brides are prone to contract HIV (owing to the fact that these girls often marry older men with more sexual experience), die during pregnancy and child delivery, undergo abortion, and suffer still births and miscarriages among others.
Despite the fact that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 overrides the provisions of Muslim personal law that allows marriage of a girl child upon attainment of puberty, rural children who are bonded by traditional social norms and values get married before attainment of the age of majority, in total disregard of the legislation.