A Brief Discussion on the Consequences of Child Marriage

Yagya Bharadwaj

Child marriage begets socio-economic problems for those who are pushed into it, and prevents them from using their potential to improve their standard of life. The causes and consequences of child marriage are closely related, as they both merge into one another at some point. Let us have a look at the ill-effects of child marriage.

Lack of access to education

One of the causes of child marriage is lack of access to education, which also emerges as a consequence of the same. Not having access to education leads to parents marrying off their child, especially the girl child, at an early age. As a result, the child remains out of school, and does not get to complete their education, and consequently, is unable to earn for themself and lead a better life.

Societal norms assign lower value to girls in comparison to boys, and girls are perceived as having no alternative role in the society other than getting married and taking care of the household. They are expected to help with domestic chores and undertake responsibilities in preparation for their marriage.  Growing up around such mindset makes girls think the same way, and they lose the motivation to study and make something of themselves. After marriage, it becomes nearly impossible for them to pursue education.

Poor health

Another dire consequence of child marriage is poor health, which becomes a lifetime problem. Girls who are married at an early age are likely to have more pregnancies than girls who are married at an older age. They face maternal and reproductive health issues, have higher mortality rate, and are not always in a position to have access to quality healthcare. Child marriage takes a toll on the health of the couple, especially the girl, making them more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and other serious illnesses.

Additionally, the inadequate knowledge about health problems and lack of access to healthcare does not only affect the mother or the father, but also the children born out of that marriage. The family is unable to fully understand and handle the health problems of both the mother and the child, which leads to a high number of deaths every year.

Poverty

The number of child marriages among people living in poverty is higher than those who live a wealthier life. Entering into marriage at an early age only adds to the economic problems of the married couple, and binds them in the vicious cycle of poverty.

As a result of not having proper education, it becomes difficult for the couple to find good paying jobs, which leads to them not being able to make ends meet, especially after the birth of a child. So they keep living in poverty with no means to improve their standard of life.

Poverty has a more negative impact on girls than on boys, and child brides are disproportionately affected by it, as after marriage, they become entirely dependent on their husband’s or the husband’s family’s income, with no capability or means to earn on their own.

Violence against girls

Getting married at an early age exposes girls to domestic violence, which includes both physical and verbal violence. Even though sexual intercourse with a minor girl is a crime, it is prevalent in child marriages, and most of them are not reported. After they become of the majority age, it is not even a crime anymore because in India, marital rape is not recognized by the law yet.

The different forms of violence that child brides face, and continue to face even in adulthood, affects their physical, mental, and sexual health. It deteriorates their standard of life and sends them into a spiral of misery.

The above discussed consequences of child marriage highlight the severity of socio-economic problems that it brings. The prevalent gender-discrimination makes it worse for girls and they suffer more as child brides and even as adult women.

Every person is born with the potential to change the world. But, discriminatory practices like child marriage stop them from having their best chance at achieving all that they could have, had they been able to pursue quality education and seek job opportunities.

Child marriage is a prevailing social evil in the Indian society, and even though laws have been enacted and policies have been made to put an end to it, it is still happening, and on a large scale, especially in rural areas, and among those who live in poverty. Stricter implementation of the existing laws, effective policies, and awareness programs are imperative to ensure that such a regressive practice stops sooner than later.

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