India: Girls Forced into Child Marriages Face Social Barriers
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 4:00 PM

A key goal of India's 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act was to reduce the prevalence of child marriages and eradicate penalties for girls under the age of 18 who are pressured to marry. Yet 47 percent of adolescent girls in India are married or in a union by age 18. Contrary to the intent of the legislation, girls and women who are forced into child marriages face obstacles when they attempt to access to social and government programs.
For example, state policies prohibit women who were married as children from passing the civil servant examinations. One woman – Ratnashri Pandey – has challenged the prohibition. After multiple appeals, she now waits for a verdict from the Supreme Court of India.
Additionally, government programs may exclude pregnant girls under age 19 from receiving free or assisted pre- or post-natal healthcare or other maternity benefits. Considering that a UNICEF report found that 47 percent of Indian girls are underweight and 56 percent of those ages 15 to 19 are anemic, the exclusions will exacerbate the already dire health situation of adolescent girls in India.
Compiled from: Aruna Kashyup, Trapped After Being Forced to Say I Do, The Hindu (28 May 2012).