NGO calls for stricter law enforcement to tackle child marriages

New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) About 35 million women and 10 million men in north India were married as children, an analysis of the 2011 census data by NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) revealed.

There should be stricter implementation of laws and greater community involvement to address the problem of child marriage, said CRY on Tuesday.

According to CRY’s analysis, women are three times more likely to be married off before the legal marriageable age.

Topping the list is Rajasthan where 30 per cent of the currently married persons entered wedlock as children. The percentage of women married as children is 43 per cent in the state, while for men it is 16 per cent.

The legal marriageable age in India is 18 years for women and 21 years for men.

Rajasthan is followed by Madhya Pradesh where 26 per cent of all married people became husbands or wives below the legal age. Uttar Pradesh and Haryana at 21 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, take the third and fourth spot.

The figures emerging out of the northern states are higher than the national average of 19 per cent.

“Child marriage is practised under the garb of tradition, culture and protection. There are several health risks attached to this practice. Child marriage results in early pregnancy, which often leads to high maternal and infant deaths,” Soha Moitra, Regional Director of CRY, said.

“While the government should ensure stricter implementation of the law, including strengthening registration of births and marriages and prosecution of offenders, it is crucial to influence the behaviour of the communities for a lasting change,” Moitra said.

She said sensitising families, engaging with communities and local authorities can bring about a positive change.

–IANS

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