LANCET REPORT ON CHILD MARRIAGE Syllabus GS Paper 3 – Social Issue)

News-CRUX-10     8th January 2024        

Context: Child marriage is prevalent in India according to a study published in the Lancet Global Health that showed stalled progress.

Key Finding

  • Four States: Bihar (16.7%), West Bengal (15.2%), Uttar Pradesh (12.5%), and Maharashtra (8.2%) accounted for more than half of the total headcount burden of child marriages in girls.
  • Six States increase in girl child marriages: Manipur, Punjab, Tripura, and West Bengal.
  • Eight states rise in boy child marriages: Chhattisgarh, Goa, Manipur, and Punjab.
  • State Disparities: While some states show significant reductions in child marriage prevalence for girls, the report highlights challenges faced by states like West Bengal.
  • West Bengal's Alarming Increase: West Bengal witnessed the largest absolute increase in child marriage, with a 32.3% rise in headcount, equating to over 500,000 more girls being married as children.
  • Continued High Rates: The survey reveals that in West Bengal, 41.6% of women aged 20-24 years were married before the age of 18, a figure consistent with the National Family Health Survey-4. In contrast, the all-India average for this age group is 23.3%.

UNICEF's Perspective

  • About: The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) views child marriage as a "violation of human rights" and identifies its detrimental impact on the development of both girls and boys.
  • Gender Inequality: Child marriage often stems from entrenched gender inequality, with girls disproportionately bearing the brunt of this harmful practice.
  • Strategic Importance for SDG 5: Ending child marriage is considered crucial in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, aiming to "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls" by 2030.
  • SDG 5.3 Target: SDG target 5.3 specifically aims to "eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation."

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