Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up

Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Child marriages in Bihar : The highest in India

A state which was at the pinnacle of education, seat of learning , etc should have the highest child marriages in India, should have surprised any rationale human. But knowing the state of affairs in Bihar over the last so many decades, many of us will not be surprised to hear that 68.9% of marriages in Bihar are child marriages.

As per Unicef,  Bihar has the highest percentage of child marriages in India with 68.9 % of the marriages in the state involving girls below the marriageable age of 18. Bihar is followed by Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The percentages are below:

Percentage of Child marriages
Andhra Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal

Now that we have made significant progress in the last 6 years in Bihar, it is time to focus on social issues too. Hopefully with the focus on improving the state of education in Bihar, we will see these numbers come down in the next 5-10 years. In parallel, the social welfare minister of Bihar has a stupendous task cut out: To create awareness against the pitfalls of child marriages. Some of the questions that come to my mind are
  1. Is there a focus to educate the people on the pitfalls of child marriages?
  2. How effective are these programs?
  3. What more can be done?
  4. How can people like us help?
Indian legislation banned child marriage in 1929 and enforced it with the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 making it illegal for girls to marry below age 18 and for boys below 21 years. Child marriage is an offense punishable with a fine up to Rs. 100,000 (One lakh) or  up to two years of imprisonment or both. Few get prosecuted, however.

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