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India’s Plan to Stop the Child Marriage

Context

The steering committee of a global programme to stop child marriage is in India to see how state actions have helped cut down on the number of child marriages. The Covid-19 pandemic is the reason for this visit. It is thought that the number of child marriages will rise because of the pandemic.

Relevance

GS Paper 1:Social empowerment, Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.GS Paper 2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Mains Question

Examine the connections between poverty and child marriages in India, as well as the country’s progress toward ending child, early, and forced marriages. (250 Words)


Child Marriages in India:

  • From 2005-2006 to 2015-2016, the number of child marriages in India went down from 47.4% to 26.8%.
  • In the last five years, it has gone down by 3.5% points, and the latest data from the National Family Health Survey-5 show that it will be 23.3% in 2020-21.
  • There is a growing trend for the number of child marriages to go down, but 23.3% is still a worryingly high number in a country with 141.2 crore people.
  • According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), eight states have a higher rate of child marriage than the national average. West Bengal, Bihar, and Tripura are at the top of the list, with more than 40% of women aged 20–24 married before they turned 18.
  • Some states, like Madhya Pradesh (down from 32.4% in 2015-16 to 23.1% in 2020-21), Rajasthan (down from 35.4% to 25.4%), and Haryana, have seen a drop in child marriage.

Global Scenario:

  • UNICEF says that 12 million girls get married when they are still young every year.
  • Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 is to get rid of all harmful practises, like child, early, and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Legal Intervention in India:

  • There are several laws, such as the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act of 2012, that are meant to protect children from violations of their human rights and other rights.
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, wants to raise the age at which women can get married from 18 to 21.

Why should the minimum age of marriage for women be raised?

  • Lack of access to education and jobs: Because women get married at a younger age, they have less access to education and jobs than men.
    • Women who get married at a young age often can’t go to school or get a job.
    • If the minimum age for marriage goes up, more women will go to college and work instead of getting married.
  • Effects of early marriage on the health of women and children: o Getting married and having children at a young age has a big effect on how well mothers and their children eat and on their overall health and mental health.
    • Young mothers have a higher chance of having problems with their reproductive health, being malnourished, bleeding after giving birth, and getting sexually transmitted diseases.

Schemes/Policies to stop girl child marriage:

  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) – SSY was started in 2015 to help girls.
    • It encourages parents to invest and save money for their daughter’s future education and wedding costs.
  • Balika Samriddhi Yojana – The Balika Samriddhi Yojana is another programme run by the central government to help girls from poor families.
    • This plan makes sure that girls get into and stay in elementary and secondary schools.
  • It tries to help a girl’s child do well in life and gives them a better education.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao is the most popular programme for helping girls.
  • This plan is a way to honour girls. Its name, Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl Child, means exactly what it says. It believes in empowering women and making an environment where everyone can do that.
    • The goal of this plan is to keep girls safe before and after they are born.

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December 2022
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