Kerela’s shocking Child Marriage figures
A recent report by UNICEF has brought-out shocking statistics about the most literate state of the country- Kerela. The report suggests an apparent rise in rate of child marriages in the state. The trend which is more prominent in the rural parts than the urban areas, has been quite alarming. Kerela has always scored well on the gender bias front and thus the new study by UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist in India Dora Giusti has come as a surprise for many.
The new phenomenon which has raised its head is largely attributed to the migration from northern states. The District Level Household and Facility Survey’s latest statistics have further highlighted that child marriage is more spread in the rural parts of the state where the rate is as high as 48% as compared to the urban areas where it still 29%. This is also as documented by Giusti, more common in some sections of society which comprise low-caste and scheduled tribes.
Presenting national statistics, the UNICEF has stated the 52.5 percent girls in the bracket of 20-24 years in rural India were child brides and got married much before the legal age of 18 years. The gap which has widened in Kerela and is also widely seen in other parts of rural India, as suggested by UNICEF will take another 50 years to be completely overcome. It is more of a change in mindsets than effective laws which play a major role in such crisis. Effective implementation of laws to grassroot level where this evil thrives should be made.
There are some states where child marriages are still common and are left unchecked. They are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Here the rate of child marriages vary from 51.9%- 68.2 percent. Bihar has recorded highest incidence of 68.2 percent and Himachal Pradesh has the lowest percentage of 9 percent.
Such glaring statistics and reports make the dream of progressive India seem distant and blurred. We as a nation have to rise above the medieval mindsets and thinking and let our children breathe in free air and provide them the deserving atmosphere to grow and shine. Child marriages bring with them a host of severe mental and physical trauma for young and innocent minds.