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UNICEF report says child marriages in India are on the decline

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund / United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) in a press release has said that 25 million child marriages were prevented in the past decade. However, it said that there was much left to be achieved in future.

UNICEF also said that 1/3 of global child marriages happen in India. In a progress report titled ‘Ending Child Marriage in India’ [pdf] the organisation said:

“India has the largest number of child brides in the world — one third of the global total. Yet, recent data indicates that in the last decade there has been a significant decline in the prevalence of child marriage from 47 per cent to 27 per cent of the proportion of women aged 20-24 years who were married before age 18 from 2005/2006 to 2015/2016. Child marriage among young men and boys has also seen a positive change.”

The report also said that there had been improvement in most affected states like Rajasthan. Community interventions and government programmes like Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram  had contributed to the fall in Child marriages according to the UNICEF South Asia’s progress report.

It says :

“A key strategy for the initiative has been to strengthen access to services through ongoing government programmes such as the Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK- National Adolescent Health Strategy), and the state skill development mission for continuing education for out of school girls, and for skill building have also been forged with private sector partners. Parents of these girls, and service providers are now increasingly talking about the need for girls to realize their aspirations through appropriate training, education and access to information and services.

Interventions like these are helping advocate for a greater push within government programmes and services to strengthen the outreach to adolescent girls and enhance their value in an environment free of discrimination and harmful practices.”

The UNICEF report drew heavily from India’s NFHS surveys and census data to track the progress. This news is positive, yet a huge amount undone work remains before the government and society as a whole.

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