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Friday, December 23, 2011

Monetary Incentive to End Child Marriage in Indian State is Successful

Photo: Sandeep Saxena for Hindu.com 
One in seven girls in developing countries is married before their 15th birthday, usually against her will. Across the globe, more than 60 million girls find themselves innocent victims as child brides, despite the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulation that 18 is the minimum age for marriage. While many countries have adhered to this age restriction, others have fixed the minimum age at 16, while some countries have yet to set or enforce any minimum age for marriage.

Though child marriage is outlawed in many states, it continues to thrive in the dark of night or in the rural villages often out of reach of the rule of law. In India, Parliament passed the Child Marriage Restraint Act in 1978, setting the minimum age for women to get married at 18 and 21 for men. Despite the law, child marriages still continue, especially in populous northern states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. According to a 2010 study in India one-fifth of married women were wed before they were 15 years-old and half of those surveyed were married before they turned 18 years-old. The study was conducted by the Population Council of India and released by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in Febu. It also found that 47 percent had their first pregnancy in the first year of their marriage, while a quarter of those who were married as children also experience some form of physical violence in the marriage (Hindu).

Child marriages violate the rights of the child in many ways, but the most concerning violation is a girl’s right to consent. How do we end this outdated practice, that continues to harm girls across the globe? One Indian state believes that they may have found a viable solution to help curb child marriage. In the state of Haryana, child marriage is on the decline, a rare victory in this battle.

To read the rest of this article by Bridge to Freedom Foundation's Executive Director and Founder, Cassandra Clifford please follow this link to the Foreign Policy Association's Children's Rights Blog: http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2011/12/22/monetary-incentive-to-end-child-marriage-in-indian-state-is-successful/

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