Fight Against Child Marriage: NGOs Call For Universal Compulsory Free Education Till 18 Yrs Of Age

Fight Against Child Marriage: NGOs Call For Universal Compulsory Free Education Till 18 Yrs Of Age

The coalition works in tandem with the governments in over 300 districts witnessing a high prevalence of child marriage and aims to end this social crime in the country by 2030.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Saturday, March 09, 2024, 12:06 AM IST
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Indore (Madhya Pradesh): Free and compulsory education for all children under the age of 18 can play a pivotal role in ending child marriage as there is an inverse relationship between education and child marriage. This key finding, which could become a game-changer in the country’s fight against child marriage, is part of a research paper titled ‘Educate to End Child Marriage: Exploring linkages and role of education in elevating age at marriage for girls in India’ released on International Women’s Day by Child Marriage Free India campaign which is a coalition of 160 NGOs across the country.

The coalition works in tandem with the governments in over 300 districts witnessing a high prevalence of child marriage and aims to end this social crime in the country by 2030.

In the last six months alone, 50,000 child marriages have been stopped nationwide through counselling while legal action was initiated in around 10,000 cases of child marriage. Notably, elimination of early, child and forced marriages by 2030 is also a global commitment made by countries under the aegis of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“While both the Centre as well as state governments have been exhibiting a tough stance to end child marriage, this one modification to the existing Right To Education to include all children up to the age of 18 could accelerate the pace to end child marriage,” Purujit Praharaj, lead Researcher for the report, said.

Releasing the paper in INDORE AAs, a coalition partner of Child Marriage Free India campaign, demanded that while the Centre and state government’s action to end this social crime is commendable and yielding results, firmer steps need to be taken to amplify this fight against child marriage. Drawing from insights revealed in the paper, the NGO asserted that the education of all children up to the age of 18 years be made free and compulsory and also urged all political parties to incorporate this important issue in their election manifestos for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“Led by women activists and village leaders, we have been able to stop 52 child marriages in Indore in the last six months. However, there is an urgent need to make education a top priority across the country and we would also ask the government for total ban on child marriage in the state,” AAs director, Waseem Iqbal said. The research paper highlights that there is inverse relationship between female literacy rates and the prevalence of child marriage.

2 in 3 girls were married between 15 to 17 yrs of age: Census 2011

The last National Family Health Survey V (NHFS 2019-21) revealed that 23.3 per cent of girls in the age group 20-24 years were married before the age of 18 in the country. Meanwhile, Census 2011 reported that every 2 in 3 girls were married between 15-17 years of age, which meant that 33 lakh out of the 52 lakh girl children were pushed into marriage.

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