Madhya Pradesh is one of the seven states where child marriage is most prevalent
Madhya Pradesh continues to battle one of the most regressive practices in modern Indian history, Child Marriage. The state is one of the 7 states in India where child marriage is the most prevalent. According to NCPCR’s report on Child Marriage in India based on 2011 census data, Madhya Pradesh ranks among the top ten states with high percentage of child marriages among both boys and girls.
“When one thinks of child marriage, the image conjured up is that of times gone by. The image is of days when education was not accessible to women and girls were married off before they could even enjoy childhood. Sadly, child marriage has been carried into the technology driven 21st century and shows no signs of slowing down,” says Sh. Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Laureate and founder, Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.
Let us not think that child marriage is restricted only to rural areas and it is not an urbanphenomenon. It is alarming to note that it is growing in India, across both rural and urban spaces. It is a growing menace, that cuts across class, caste, religion and region.
While the access to education has become easier, and awareness about this social evil is widespread across the country, it is ironic that it is still practised at will in India.
“Child marriage is one of the biggest forms of societally sanctioned sexual, physical and mental abuse of young children. The practice of child marriage has time and again received been strongly opposed by government institutions as well as civil society. And yet, as India grows economically prosperous, its future continues to fall prey to illegal, under-age civil unions,” says Mr. Satyarthi.
Several studies indicate that one of the strongest factors that force people into marrying off their children is poverty. This is true, especially in the cases of the girl child, where they are seen as a liability to their family.
Even in urban areas, despite the improvement in the overall education of the people, the lack of economic alternatives contributes to the prevalence of this practice.
Children who are forcibly married, are often not provided access to any form of education for their livelihood. This lack of education is creating a cesspool of ignorance among girls and boys. Child marriage is a monumental hindrance to the socio-economic progress that is expected of a state, and ultimately, the country. It poses significant risks to the health, education and demography of the country. At a time when children are expected to play, study and live a carefree life, they are being pushed to abandon their childhood and take up responsibilities that are highly uncharacteristic and unbecoming of such a tender age.
Child marriage, apart from being illegal, is also associated with a multitude of risks to the children involved. These range from the physical and sexual complications that arise with pregnancy to the subtle yet equally grave psychological trauma the children must endure.
The weak implementation of the prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 (PCMA) is another contributing factor to the growth of these marriages. There is limited understanding of the law and very little understanding of the functioning of the law or consequences of the act.
Mr Satyarthi said, Mr Satyarthi said, “Children should be playing sports and studying hard. They should not be pushed to marry. We should not turn a blind eye to this growing problem. The time has come for the whole country to take a strong stand against this practice of child marriage. Madhya Pradesh has already made a good beginning to end this social evil.”
Society at large needs to be educated on the numerous problems associated with child marriage and the society must be made aware of the pitfalls that dot the lack of education in the state. Unless a strong stand against this regressive practice is taken, there will be no end in sight to the menace of child marriage in this country.Child marriage should have no place in 21st century India.
( News item and pictures courtesy PR 24 X7: http://www.pr24x7.com)