Launch of Analysis of Child Marriage in India based on the 2011 Census

launch event of  Census 2011 report on child marriage

Today, 1 June in ­New Delhi, the Honourable Mr. Justice A. K. Sikri, Judge, Supreme Court of India launched “A Statistical Analysis of Child Marriage in India – a new report based on the 2011 Census and developed by Young Lives in collaboration with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

Unveiling the Statistical Analysis of Child Marriage in India based on the Census 2011, Honourable Justice Sikri stated

child marriage is a socio legal issue and legislation and implementation of the law is very critical in reducing child marriage. It is very useful that the report has identified 70 districts with the highest incidence of child marriage. I hope that the 13 identified States will take concrete steps to strengthen the implementation of the Prohibition of the Child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006. The role of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPO’s) is extremely important and we should appoint CMPOs in every district.”

Welcoming invitees, Ms. Stuti Kacker, Chairperson, NCPCR, said “NCPCR has focused on the issue of child marriage in the country, since it constitutes a violation of child rights. We have pledged in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that “there will be no child left behind”. The report based on Census 2011 data has highlighted that both boys and girls are still getting married in large numbers with a total of 12 million child marriages below the legal age. Out of these, about 7 million were boys and 5 million were girls below their respective legal ages. The statistical analysis will help the States in adopting suitable strategies for preventing child marriages at the district level.”

Addressing the gathering, Shri Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India said,

"Girls continue to be viewed as “Paraya Dhan” and parents often marry their daughter young, for economic and social reasons. However, the short term economic reasons that influence parental choice may not serve the long term interest of children. Our ministry is very serious in taking concrete steps to prevent and reduce child marriage and National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC), 2016 has a goal to reduce prevalence of child marriage to 15% by 2021.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Renu Singh, Country Director for Young Lives India, said

this report is important because we have calculated the “incidence” rather than “prevalence” of child marriage since the former reflects the current scenario related to child marriage in the country as reported by the latest Census. The analysis has revealed that there are huge variations in the incidence of child marriage both within and across States with rural areas having a larger number of child marriages. Despite the decline in child marriage particularly in the age group 10-14, there are 1.1 million boys and 1.8 million girls who were reported married in this age group. The economic impact and cost of child marriage are likely to be very high for children who marry early, their families and community at large.”

Taking state averages into consideration, Rajasthan, Undivided Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, have the highest incidence of child marriage both amongst boys and girls.

These 70 districts together have 14% of India’s population below the legal age but contribute to 21% of incidence of child marriage in the country. Comparing incidence of child marriage based on Census 2001 and 2011, the report also highlights that there are both increasing and decreasing trends in population as well as in the incidence of child marriage across these 70 identified districts. For instance, while 13 districts in Rajasthan continue to figure prominently amongst the highest incidence districts with respect to child marriage of girls and boys, it is important to note that all the districts other than Banswara in Rajasthan for girls, showed a positive declining trend in child marriage over the decade (2001-2011).

16 urban and rural districts of Maharashtra feature in the list of districts that have shown an increase in the incidence of child marriage for both boys and girls between 2001 and 2011. Bhandara in Maharashtra registered a five-fold increase in child marriage amongst girls and more than 20-fold increase amongst boys between 2001 and 2011. The report highlights that the increase in incidence of marriage for boys also needs urgent attention.

The report identifies the causes, drivers and triggers of child marriage in India. Good practices from States as well as civil societies have also been highlighted in the report.

Dr. Singh added that, “it is essential that we focus on the districts that are showing an increase in child marriage for both boys and girls particularly in the identified urban districts. We need to conduct further research in these areas to understand the causal factors that are driving this phenomenon. Also, good practices by State and civil societies need to be evaluated and scaled up

Recommendations of the report include developing state and district plans by strengthening legal framework, engagement with community to stop the practice of dowry and child marriage, supporting advocacy campaigns through partnerships and building an enabling framework guarantying both boys and girls childhood they deserve.

The full report can be downloaded here  and the Executive Summary here.