Every second girl in India is married underage, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said on Friday in a fresh assessment of global child marriage patterns that paints a worrying picture of a practice widely banned but still rampant.
India has the highest number of child brides, with 47% girls married under the legal age of 18, the UNFPA said, highlighting that 140 mn child marriages may take place between 2011 and 2020, cutting across most developing nations. This means 39,000 child marriages happen everyday on an average.
The shocking numbers came on International Women’s Day, at a time when India is debating strengthening laws to tackle crimes against women. “Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects,” Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA executive director said.