Child Marriage Cases on Boom During Corona

Child Marriage Cases on Boom During Corona

child marriages during corona, child marriages in India 2020, child marriages in lockdown, child marriages during lockdown, child marriages in India essay, child marriages in India statistics, India child marriages 2020, minor girl marriage case, minor girl child marriage

Child marriages during corona

With rapidly growing Covid infection rate in India, simultaneously increasing is the number of child marriages in many regions across the country and other parts of the world. It took decades to control the immensely high rate of child marriages. And we still could not have managed to eliminate it totally.

Now, coronavirus pandemic has given it new boom, mitigating the efforts of many decades to contain child marriages in India. After losing sources of income during and after coronavirus lockdown, thousands of vulnerable families of India and other countries are taking route of child marriage to make up their losses of months.


Current situation on child marriages across India

Despite law banning child marriages in India, a total of 5,584 attempts were reportedly prevented by authorities during Covid lockdown. Yet thousands or lakhs of marriages of minors may have skipped the eyes and raids of authorities across the country. As per estimations, thousands of vulnerable families may have agreed for marriage of their minor girls for money. They needed this money in absence of income sources since corona lockdown.

Coronavirus pandemic may be the most important reason for rapid increase in child marriages in India. However, it’s not the only reason for the rise in cases. Because many states are facing one or other additional crisis like flood or drought along with the deadly virus. In many parts of Bihar and Assam, people are seeing their houses drowning by flooding. And a number of regions in Odisha and Jharkhand are facing water crisis due to drought situation.

Weather extremities have increased people’s vulnerabilities and children’s risk. Not only in one or two states, police and child right agencies of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam and Odisha among other states had to intervene to stop thousands of child marriages in their respective regions. And many thousands or lakhs of more attempts may have succeeded an escape from the scrutiny of authorities.

Before-corona facts and figures

A few years back, we were a little close to eliminate this malpractice. The data of National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) held in 2015-16 had showed steady drop in child marriage cases compared to 2005-06 survey across states of the country, except Himachal Pradesh and Manipur, where seen a marginal increase over the decade. Marriages of below 15 year old children saw a considerable fall in the study. However, since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, children across the states are against high risk of marriages.

The number of child marriage incidents in rural areas is much higher than those in urban areas. As per NFHS-4 data, it’s 14.1% in villages compared to 6.9% in cities. Rural areas may have seen manifold cases in Covid times. Despite criminalizing it under the Prohibition of Child Marriage (PCM) Act, 2006, the country has been unable to eliminate this practice completely so far. Even though offenses being cognizable (arrest without warrant) and non-bailable under this act, people indulging in child marriages tend to escape the law.

According to the NHFS-4 survey, women’s education level and economic status have been among major factors for their early marriages. Nearly 45% uneducated and 40% primary educated women had married as a minor, said NFHS-4 data. Around 30% of poorest women married before the age of 18, compared to 8% of the richest, the survey revealed. In the current conditions, these factors seem to have been putting major impact on child marriage trend in India. Covid pandemic may weaken the achievements of decades in a few months of this year.

Surge in child marriages during corona

Around 13 million child marriages are likely over a decade due to coronavirus pandemic worldwide, says a United Nations report. According to another study, nearly four million girls are at risk of child marriages in next two years. Earlier, global studies have found arising trend in child marriages during natural disasters and pandemics. It’s a gendered violence as it affects girls’ health, education and career options.

Around 27% girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. And 7% are married before they are 15, says a before-corona UNICEF data. As police was busy with other duties during coronavirus lockdown, many families found it favorable time to commit such crime. This time, they attempted to escape from being noticed, hold low-expense wedding and face less dowry demands.

Coronavirus outbreak is likely to lead four millions additional girls at risk of early marriage or forced marriage, estimates the World Vision, an international children development organization. The vulnerabilities among girls have increased dramatically. This is due to schools remaining closed and lack of heath care availability in all these months since the Covid outbreak, says World Vision.

Now government is pondering on increasing girls’ marriageable age to 21 years. While they have been unable to stop marriages of under-18 girls completely over the decades, this attempt of increasing marriageable age of girls is worthless. Global agencies, governments, authorities and Non-Government Organization must cooperate and create more strict and solid vigilance and awareness strategies to save minors from marriages.

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