Despite various plans and penalties declared by government, the practice of marrying girls before legally permissible age of 18 still continues in many rural areas of India. A 2011 data sheet called ‘The World's Women and Girls’ puts number of such marriages in India more than the number of child marriages in Sub-Saharan Africa or whole of Africa.
The data released by the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau, shows that 47% of women in India between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before reaching 18 years of age. This figure is more than the average for South Central Asia (45%), of which India is a part. The average for Africa as a continent works out to 34%. Most African countries score better than India, including Ghana, Sudan and Nigeria. While Pakistan's data states 24%, even Afghanistan, with a score of 43%, is in better condition than India in tackling the problem of child marriage. It is another matter that the reliability of data for Pakistan and Afghanistan is very low.
Lack of awareness among people about women’s health issues and social set up that discriminates against girl child, are considered two prime reasons responsible for the practice of child marriage. It has been observed that states of India like Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand, where women’s educational level is low, see more child marriages.
Social pressure, concerns for girls’ safety and financial considerations force many parents to marry their daughters early. Girls are still considered a responsibility and parents think sooner the better they should be married off.
Child marriage is a violation of child rights and takes away the right to choose partner when one become adult. Though in several Indian communities, despite child marriage, a girl is allowed to live with her husband or in-laws only after reaching adulthood, but wherever she has to face an early motherhood, it deteriorates the health of both mother and child.