One out of three early girl child marriages results in a “broken marriage” and thus places the child in an even more vulnerable situation in a patriarchal society. The denial of education, and thus of opportunity to realize their full potential, pushes these children into situations of abuse, violence and child trafficking, revealed a study released by Samajika Parivathana Janandolana, an alliance supported by CRY – Child Rights and You at the “Round Table on Early Girl Child Marriages in Karnataka”.
Justice Shivraj Patil, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India inaugurated the Round Table at Bangalore on Thursday.
Aggravating the situation are the new subtle forms of child marriages such as ‘Yaadi-mei-Shaadi’ and mass marriages which are taking place in the State along with the ‘Gujjar marriages’ in North Karnataka. The study was based on in-depth interviews conducted with 130 young women in the age-group of 18 – 25 years who were forced into early girl child marriages in 93 villages from 6 districts of Karnataka – Raichur, Gulbarga, Belgaum, Haveri, Davangere and Bangalore.
Explaining further, the study noted that around 29 % of the respondents faced broken marriages and 47% of girls who had married at the age of 14 had broken marriages. Apart from it, 29% of husbands of early girl child marriages were uneducated.
“Child Marriage is a very serious child and human rights violation which robs children of their rightful happy childhood. Hence, a strong framework of policies to ensure the safety and rights of girl children in the age – group of 11 – 18 years is the need of the hour,” said Suma Ravi, Regional Director, CRY ( South).
Lack of schools and education still remains one of the pre-dominant reasons which has forced many of the girls into child marriage, the study pointed out “82% of the respondents had dropped out of school before 10th std. 91% of girls who had dropped out of school before 10th were married at the age of 16 years. 49% of the respondents did not have access to high schools, long distance to high schools being one of the major hurdles. 15% of respondents had never gone to school. The cumulative dropout rate between 8th -10th, is 35%.”
Patriarchy and caste create a very unjust and unequal environment for the girl child, leading towards forced girl child marriages. This is perpetuated by traditions, beliefs and customs, and becomes a socially accepted norm. “Girl children are forced to play the roles of adult women at a very early age. By taking up motherhood at such a young age, they face high risk delivery and complications. Hence, school is the only safe place for girl children and education is the key to break the vicious cycle of poverty-caste-patriarchy-denial of education-child marriage,” Suma Ravi added.