India: Incentive Program Results in Decrease in Child Marriage
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 1:50 PM

Child marriage in northern India is so common that one half of all girls are married by 18. The northern state Haryana responded to this crisis in 1994 by creating the program “Apni Beti, Apni Dhan” (Our Daughters, Our Wealth). This unique program registers girls at birth and places 500 rupees in a savings account in the girls’ names. When a registered girl turns 18, she can sign for the compounded sum only if she is unwed. The first enrollees will turn 18 next year, and they will each have approximately 25,000 rupees (about 500 USD) waiting for them if they are still single. Community workers point to an 18% drop in the child marriage rate and hope that the enrollees will be able to use the money for their education.

It has long been documented that child marriage has disastrous effects on young girls. Pregnancy and childbirth are more likely to have complications for mothers under 18 years of age, and almost no married girls are allowed to continue to attend school. 

Compiled from: Lemmon, Gayle Tzemach, North Indian ‘Apni Beti’ Program Strikes a Blow against Child Marriage, The Daily Beast (19 December 2011).