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Post written by Joy Lim – “Child Marriage in India”

Working with Justice Ventures International (JVI)

This semester, I have the opportunity to work on the Justice Ventures International (JVI) project again. Our project for the spring is to research issues regarding child marriage in India.

The United Nations states that child marriage is a marriage where at least one of the parties is under 18. A child marriage is a forced marriage because one and/or both parties have not expressed consent to the marriage.

Every year, at least 12 million girls are forced into child marriage; that is 28 girls every minute. [1] In the least developed countries, almost half of the girls are married before 18 and 12% of girls under the age of 15. Additionally, girls are more likely than boys to get married before 18.

Economic Reasons

There are some economic reasons for child marriage. In some communities, families see daughters as an economic burden. Families in poverty may choose to marry off a daughter to avoid paying for her education and taking care of a child. A family may also marry of a child to get rid of debts. Furthermore, in some countries, they give more money to the bride’s parents if the bride is young.

Cultural Reasons

Additionally, there are cultural reasons for child marriage. Child marriages occur often in societies where parents and elders have a large role in choosing spouses for their children. Additionally, girls are to marry early to maximize their childbearing potential. In many cultures, parents may marry of a daughter early to ensure that she marries as a virgin and to prevent out of wedlock births. People of various religions support early marriage. For example, some Muslims believe that Islam permits child marriage because the Quran states that girls can marry when reaching maturity. Which is often interpreted as puberty.

The Negative Affects

Despite the many justifications people may have for approving child marriage, child marriage negatively affects child brides. Girls are expected to have children soon after marriage, before their bodies have matured. This can lead to pregnancy and childbirth complications. Additionally, girls are more vulnerable to domestic abuse. Even if girls have a choice to divorce their abusive spouses, they have difficulty supporting themselves afterwards because they have little financial support and education.

Child marriage has a lot of negative effects on girls and violates the rights of children. Societies that practice child marriage need to be aware of the detrimental effects and must consider letting go of this practice. Marriage is globally agreed to be between two consenting adults and forcing children into marriage does more harm than good.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.