Child Marriage: What You Need to Know and How You Can Help End It

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A child marriage refers to both formal marriages and informal unions where either or both of the partners are under 18 years of age or live with each other as if married. South Asia has the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Almost half (45%) of all women aged 20-24 years reported being married before the age of 18. Almost one in five girls (17%) are married before the age of 15.

Child marriage is not only a severe violation to human rights but is also related to various crimes such as violence, abuse, marital rape and exploitation. India has the largest number of brides in the world – one-third of the global total. It marks various social aspects such as inequality, poverty, superstitions, traditions, insecurity and willingness to get rid of child.

Reasons for Child Marriage:

1.Gender Inequality

The most common reason for such practice is the patriarchal mindset. Girls are mentioned to as a burden on the house, ‘paraya dhan’ and are not valued as much as boys as it is believed they carry the family name further. Marrying them early is seen as a means to get rid of the girl child and ease the household.

2.Traditional Practices

Child marriages happen in many places just because it has happened for generations. No reasons behind it. When girls start to menstruate, they become women in the eyes of the community and marriage is therefore the next step towards giving a girl her status as a wife and mother.

“Traditions are made by people – and people can unmake them.”
- Graça Machel


It is often triggered by the urge to control female sexuality to how they should behave, sit, talk, dress, whom should love and marry. Families closely guard their daughters’ sexuality and virginity in order to protect the family honour. Girls who have relationships or become pregnant outside of marriage are shamed for bringing dishonour on their family and not the boys.


More than half of girls from the poorest families in the developing world are married as children. Families marry their girls as believe that marriage will be a solution to secure their future.
Giving a daughter in marriage allows parents to reduce family expenses by ensuring they have one less person to feed, clothe and educate.

Families may also see investing in their son’s education as more worthwhile investment. In some cases marriage of a daughter is a way to repay debts, manage disputes, or settle social, economic and political alliances.

5.Perception of ‘Marriage Provides Protection’

Society believes that girls are more vulnerable of sexual harassment and it is in her best interest that they get married so that they are safe, despite the fact that more crimes happen with married women.

6.Lack of Education

Education is indeed the most important factor that can change the world. Uneducated parents tend to give their daughters as they are not well informed about the consequences of early marriages.

7.Bride Kidnapping

Out of disputes, jealousy, anger, people kidnap the girl child and pressurize their families to get her married. Sometimes, males kidnap females they wish to marry and do so without consent.

8.Bride Price and Dowry

It is the price paid to the groom by the girl’s family to marry their daughter. Yes, every girl child is sold.

Consequences of Child Marriage:


Child marriage often ends the education of the girl child as she is expected to consider her duties to the new family and raise children. This leaves them illiterate.


Without Education, such girls find it difficult to earn income and thus they get dependent on their partners, often used as a means to harm them.

3.Health Issues

Child marriage triggers unwanted pregnancies and physical torture. Girls get pregnant before they are ready which leads to complications which endanger both lives.

4.Domestic Violence

Child marriage increases abuse, marital rape, torture and violence. Illiteracy prevents them to run.

5.Women’s rights

Child marriage itself is a huge violation of human rights. It also violates rights such as right to equality, education, speech, choose and reproductive rights.

5.Development and Stability

Child marriage hampers the overall development of the girl child and makes her mentally and physically unstable. Child marriage must be stopped. Ending child marriage is targeting the society’s mindset. Education plays the most important role here. It makes them aware of their rights and help them know how to tackle situations. Opportunities for women to grow and become independent and not look out to male section for their necessities can bring about a big change.
Empower Women!

Written by - Rashi Jain

Edited by - Nidhi verma