Child Marriage & Health

Marriage at young age in either sex has a big impact on health of the child, particularly girls. Although community is by and large aware about the impact of child marriage on sexual and reproductive health of girls, this practice has not ceased in our country. There are laws for prohibition of child marriage in our country but the question that haunts us is- have they been effective? Despite of the awareness and laws the practice exists, this clearly elucidates that there is a lack of political will to enforce the law at the proletariat level.


According to Unicef's State of the World's Children Report 2007: "Premature pregnancy and motherhood are an inevitable consequence of child marriage. Girls under 15 are five times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than women in their 20s. Pregnancy-related deaths are the leading cause of mortality for girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide. In addition to high death rate there are other complications such as eclampsia, postpartum haemorrhage, sepsis, HIV infection, malaria and obstructed labour. Furthermore, it may be appalling to note that mothers under the age of 18 are more likely to deliver a low birth weight baby and the infant mortality rate is more or less doubled when the mother is less than 18 years of age. What’s more, there is a belief that marrying early will protect the girl from sexual assault, rape, premarital sexual activity, STIs and HIV/AIDS although it’s exactly the opposite. Early marriage increases the risk of contracting several STIs such as HSV2 and Gonorrhoea which further increases the vulnerability to HIV.


Child marriage not only affects the physical health of a girl but also has serious undesirable effects on the mental health.  A study done in the US suggests that the overall lifetime and 12-month rates of psychiatric disorders were higher for women who married as children, compared with women who married as adults. Major depressive disorder is one of the commonest problems among women who are married before 18 years of age.  


Does it end here? No, young girls are forcefully married and they are supposed to manage the needs of their husbands and his family members. They are expected to give birth at young age in order to prove their fertility.  


This clearly illustrates the need for a complex intervention to deal with this multi-factorial problem of child marriage.  This is just a preview of a massive problem and our resources on child marriage will help you gain adequate knowledge about this issue and we hope that this initiative will help you design interventions for elimination of this atrocious practice.