Child Marriage in India

HIV/AIDS Sex-selective abortion HIV/AIDS in India

Child Marriage in India
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To be defined at length in a later section, child marriage is most simply, for our purposes, a marriage in which the wife is below the age of eighteen at the time of consummation. The practice of child marriage in rural India is deeply rooted in cultural values and grounded in social structures. And despite laws that prohibit child marriage, the practice is still extremely prevalent in many regions. Though the statistics are contentious, it is estimated that in some parts of India, like the state of Rajasthan, nearly 80 percent of the marriages are among girls under the age of fifteen” (Gupta, 2005, p. 2). In India overall, roughly 47.6 percent of girls are married by the age of eighteen (The implications of early marriage, 2004).

Despite international human rights efforts, the eradication of child marriage is greatly hindered by the intertwined social issues that often lead to and are then in turn reinforced by the practice. Various underlying social factors inform why child marriage exists, including: traditional gender norms; the value of virginity and parental concerns surrounding premarital sex; pressure of marriage transactions (or dowries); and poverty (Amin, Chong, & Haberland, 2007). The social outcomes of child marriage are also significant, and often devastate communities in which these practices take place. Societies in which child marriage takes place have higher rates of early childbearing, unwanted pregnancies, maternal and infant mortality, sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV/AIDS) and unsafe abortions. Additionally, adolescent girls placed in child marriages are often deprived of basic health care and health information, and achieve extremely low educational attainment (Mathur, Greene, & Malhotra, 2003, p. 4- 11; Bruce, 2007; Amin, Chong, & Haberland, 2007). Apart from these health and societal...
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