Editorial, Central Chronicle, December 27, 2006
Madhya Pradesh stands at number two spot as far as marriage of minor girls are concerned whereas Rajasthan ranks first. Looking from global perspective, average age of marriage of an Indian girl is 20 years. However, in the rural areas, 55 per cent girls are married off when they are quite young. In Rajasthan the minimum age in which the girl is married off is 16 years; it is 17 in Madhya Pradesh and in Goa the average age of a girl for marriage is 22 years. In Bihar the average age for girls to be married off is 17.2, in Chhattisgarh 17.6, in New Delhi and Gujarat it is 19.2, haryana 18 years, Punjab 20.5 and Uttar Pradesh 17.5 years. India leads in child marriages as compared to nations including Pakistan and Nigeria (21 years), China, Brazil and Indonesia (23 years) and America (26). The state of the children report of UNICEF for the year 2007 states that the average age for marriage of girls has been increasing during the last 20 years, but 46 percent girls are married off before they attain 18 years of age. This is a cause for concern as the girls have to suffer many ill-effects. The condition of girls in Rajasthan is pitiable and in Madhya Pradesh too the situation is no better. There is clear violation of rule in marrying girls before age for which the girls have to pass from many dangers. The children born from such minor girls also face dangers. The girls are deprive of education too. Mostly the reason for early marriage of girls is financial. People are also of the belief that by getting their daughters married off early, the girls could be saved from sexual harassment and getting pregnant prior to marriage. In MP, efforts are being made to stop child marriage at many levels. Police and the administration are specially involved in this exercise. However, it's a matter for concern that in spite of all out efforts, early marriage of girls is continuing. Hence the need is for strict implementation of the rule against child marriage. People need to be made aware regarding dangers of early marriage as also the role of social, cultural and non-governmental organisations need to be established for this cause.
Comments - As per UNICEF's The State of the World's Children 2007 girls marrying before fifteen years have five times more chances of dying while giving birth to new life. MP and Rajasthan states already has high maternal mortality and both have high incidences of child marriage !. Lot of efforts need to go in changing people's mindsets in combating this..