Early, child and forced marriage (ECFM) is a violation of a girl’s right to grow in a safe environment, receive education and realize her full potential. It compromises all efforts to overcome poverty, fight for gender equality, advance girls’ education and improve their overall health and well-being.
Several studies strongly suggest that unequal gender norms provide social sanctions and justifications to sustain child marriage practices, which affect a girl’s health, including maternal morbidity, mortality and nutritional status. There is also an inter-generational impact on the survival and health of her children. ECFM is also linked to a higher probability of girls experiencing intimate partner violence, making it less likely for them to seek and receive the necessary support.
In India, there is legislation in place that prohibits child marriage, and there are programs to address the issue. To reduce the prevalence of child marriage, ICRW, SATHEE, Badlao Foundation and Project Concern International are implementing a comprehensive multi-layered girls’ empowerment program called UMANG. With support from the IKEA Foundation, the program is expected to reach around 200,000 adolescent girls, men and boys and community members from four blocks of Godda and Jamtara districts over the four-year program period.
This research report presents findings from the UMANG program’s baseline survey on marriage practices among adolescent girls aged 15-18 years, and their aspirations and role in decision-making with respect to their marriage.