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Child Marriage! Sexual And Reproductive Health

"Reproductive freedom is not just the ability not to have a child through birth control. It's the ability to have one if and when you want."- Pamela Madsen

Abstract
"For most women, including women who want to have children, contraception is not an option; it is a basic health care necessity."- Louise Slaughter

In any country, youngsters are indeed a valuable asset to the growth of the nation. Adolescence is a period marked by significant psychosocial transformations, as well as shifts in societal beliefs and perceptions. The difficulties in rendering assistance for adolescent development are not in developing innovative techniques or therapeutic approaches, as these would not bring juveniles into the scope of health care, although in making 'childhood and adolescence friendly healthcare institutions more approachable, egalitarian, appropriate, adequate, exhaustive, efficacious, and productive.

The moral approach of this essay is going to depict various implications, challenged and an in-depth articulate inspection of early marriage affecting sexual and reproductive health of the youth in our nation.

Child marriage threatens the lives, well-being and futures of girls around the world.- UNICEF

In all aspects connected to sexuality and the reproductive system, sexual and reproductive health is a condition of total physical, psychological, and interpersonal well-being. It indicates that people have the ability to have a fulfilling and secure sexual life free of compulsion or prejudice, as well as the ability to reproduce and the liberty to choose if, when, and how frequently they do so.

The formative years of a women are plundered, and their lives and health are jeopardized, when they marry as adolescents. Girls who marry before they are 18 are more likely to be subjected to domestic abuse and to drop out of school.

They have lower economic and health performance than their unmarried counterparts, which are conveyed down to offspring, putting a country's capacity to offer decent health and education services under even more hardship.

Due to the sheer high frequency of child marriage in India, the majority of teen pregnancies take place amid marriage. Pregnancy and consequences during childbirth are one of the top causes of death among females aged 15 to 19. As a result, adolescent pregnancy poses a significant health risk to young women in India.

Adolescent Sexuality Is Vetoed?

"No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body."- Margaret Sanger

  1. The acknowledgement of the conditions that permit early marriage is the first step in combating it. While the practise of origins differs by nations culture, it is perpetuated by poverty, an inadequate educational possibility, and restricted access to health care. Many households hand off their daughters to help them financially or to gain money.

    Others may do so in the hopes of securing or protecting their daughters' futures. Inappropriate gender norms and discrimination against girls and women are at the root of child marriage. It is frequently determined for children when and with whom to initiate sexual behaviour, in violation of their basic sexual and reproductive rights[1].

    One of the key primary motivations for families to marry their daughter prematurely is the urge to manage female sexuality and safeguard virginity before marriage. As a result, early marriage undermines girls the right to make critical decisions about their sexuality and wellbeing. Because females who marry as youngsters begin their reproductive lives early and have more offspring during their lifetimes, child marriage raises fertility rates. This corresponds to higher population growth rates at the national scale.
     
  2. In developing countries, an estimated 21 million females aged 15 to 19 and 2 million[2] girls under the age of 15 become pregnant each year. Every year, around 16 million females between the ages of 15 and 19 and 2.5 million[3] girls under the age of 16 give birth.
     
  3. Adolescent pregnancy, sometimes known as "parenthood in infancy," is one of India's most critical health concerns for young females. Each year, around 16 million women aged 15 to 19 give birth, accounting for roughly 11% of all births worldwide. In comparison to high-income nations, the average teenage fertility rate in middle-income nations is twice as high, while in low-income countries it is five times higher[4].

    Adolescent pregnancy is associated with increased morbidity (such as sexually transmitted illnesses), mental problems (such as depression), and new-born mortality. For both mother and infant, they are high-risk deliveries. When the related negative impacts on standard of living and the roles of women are evaluated, they are also high-cost births.[5]

Child Marriage Restraint Act In 1929

"The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control."- Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  1. In India, early marriage was illegal in 1929 and the minimum age for women to marry was established at 15 years. The age of consent for girls to marry was raised to 18 years in 1978 when the law was modified. In India, nevertheless, teenage girls are still married before they reach the minimum age of marriage. Whereas abortion has been legitimating since 1972, inadequate access and low service quality have kept safe abortion out of reach for impoverished women. Approximately half a million of India's projected five million induced abortions are carried out through the healthcare service system[6]. In India, adolescent pregnancy or early childbirth, as well as unsafe abortion, is a complicated problem that affects households, health care providers, schools, public officials, and young people. In India, fertility after marriage is socially acceptable, yet it has negative parenthood and new-born consequences.
     
  2. As a result, an in-ironed out research and considerable debate of the prevalence and trajectory of adolescent pregnancy in India in relation to current socio-political conditions is required. Prenatal and delivery care deficiencies have been linked to an increased risk of new-born disease and mortality[7].
     
  3. A further major variable is contraception usage, which itself is crucial for optimal women's healthcare throughout the adolescence stage, when conception and motherhood should be avoided as much as possible. All of these determinants, as well as their impact on unintended pregnancies, are fiercely disputed in India, and scholars and authorities must pay particular attention.

The Child Marriage Act Of 2006

World is made in such a simulation that its men cannot sustain without a woman in a society.- Lavanya Ajaykumar Panicker.

The statute stipulates that a guy must be 21 years old to marry, while a female must be 18 years old. A girl who has engaged into a child bride within two years of reaching the age of 18 can get a nullity decree. This legislation states for the girl in a child marriage's maintenance, means allowing anybody who was a child at the time of their marriage to lawfully nullify it at any time, it considers kids born out of adolescent pregnancy to be justified and makes provisions for their custody and maintenance, and deems certain types of child marriages involving force or exploitation to be marriages which never happened judicially.

Family Planning A Necessity

"We want far better reasons for having children than not knowing how to prevent them."- Dora Winifred Black Russell

  1. The majority of female adolescents are unaware of safe motherhood options, and even if they are, they lack simple accessibility or do not use them. Family members do not approve of abortions, and it is not culturally acceptable.
     
  2. Child marriages are often those who might benefit the most having assistance with family planning. Wanting to marry so early, frequently entails the start of sexual intercourse at a time when adolescents are still learning about their biology, sexual and reproductive health, and their entitlement to contraceptives.
     
  3. Child marriages are also under a lot of social conditioning to show their fecundity, which means they are more inclined to have premature and numerous pregnancies at a time when delivery is exceedingly risky. In reality, in the underdeveloped countries, mortality from childbearing is the top cause of death among females in adolescence.
     
  4. The end purpose of family planning programs must be to encourage women to express their freedom to choose whether to or whether to have children, but for early marriage that are unable to express their intentions to their considerably older husbands, this is seldom a possibility.
     
  5. Secluded and defenceless are used as a definition to child brides. Including in areas where access to contraception is accessible, reaching out to adolescent brides is tough.

Exposure To HIV

"No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body."- Margaret Sanger

The spread of HIV has a disproportionate impact on young women and girls. Girls and young women are twice as probable to contract HIV as young men and boys across the world.

There are a variety of variables that might render child marriages exposed to HIV once they are able to marry:
  1. Early sexual debut, particularly that which occurs within child marriages, is linked to an elevated lifetime risk of HIV infection in various situations.
  2. Because they are under pressure to demonstrate their virginity, teenage pregnancies are frequently subjected to unsafe sexual contact.
  3. Because of their young era and lack of control in the relationship, child marriages have had little input in how they exercise their sexuality, leaving them unable to negotiate safer sex or refuse sex.
  4. They are also more susceptible to domestic abuse, which has been linked to an increased risk of HIV infection.[8]

India: A Home To 223 Million Child Brides

Well, you know my number one cause has always been that women's reproductive health needs to be protected.- Ann Richards

Overall frequency of teenage pregnancies has declined significantly in India during the previous two decades, accompanied by a sharp surge. The prevalence of pregnancy complications and conceptions among teenagers[9] was substantially greater than that of youths according to the current study.

Secondary infertility or an unfavourable and detrimental reproductive success (such as stillbirth or abortion) was dramatically higher among all young females in the maximum income quintiles than of those in the lowest economic strata, and the likelihood of getting a stillbirth/abortion increased substantially with each phase in wealth quintile.

Throughout India, unfavourable childbirth consequences among teenagers can be linked not only to the young age of the mothers, but also to their socioeconomic position. The decrease in the prevalence of teen pregnancies will not eradicate detrimental social and health repercussions among low-income households and other marginalised people. It necessitates a potentially fruitful approach for broadening the paths out of poverty or, at the very least, ensuring that socioeconomic inequalities are not exacerbated.[10]

Statistics Uphill Or Downhill?
Whether it is to survive or sustain women are always top notch to face challenges. - Lavanya Ajaykumar Panicker

Teenage pregnancies and child marriage rates are highest in the western and central sections of India, and lowest in the eastern and southern parts. The issue is more prevalent in rural regions 48% than in urban areas 29%[11]. Child marriage and other kinds of gender inequality remain a part of India's demography, owing to a lack of understanding about positive social protection planning and implementation sponsored by the government, as well as insufficient implementation of regulations attributed to the prevalence of incompetent employees.

The Indian government attaches great importance of influencing teenagers' health-seeking behaviour. The wellness of this age category is a major factor influencing India's general health, fatality, disease, and growing population. As a result, investments in juvenile reproductive and sexual health will pay off in terms of delaying marriage age, reducing teenage pregnancy, addressing unmet contraceptive needs, lowering maternal mortality, lowering STI rates, and lowering Risk of HIV infection.

It will also assist India in realizing its demographic dividends, since healthy teenagers are a valuable economic resource. Despite practically universal awareness of current contraceptive techniques which is more than 90%, fewer than a fifth of adolescent females have began reproducing, 3% have been pregnant with their first child, and less than a fifth of female adolescents reported using a modern form of contraception.[12]

Conclusion And A Birth Of New India
"Defending women's health means defending access to abortion - not just in theory, but in reality. We know that restricting access doesn't make women less likely to end a pregnancy. It just makes abortion less safe. And that then threatens women's lives."- Hillary Clinton

Child brides are perceived as a societal blight that will be difficult to eradicate alone without help of society. For a lengthy moment, there have been proposals to consider child marriages unlawful from the start under the Prohibition of Child Marriages Act, but Indian culture is intricate and multifaceted, and declaring child marriages unlawful would only risk the rights of women who have suffered of early marriage.

Numerous instances, the parents of a female child forcibly marry their daughters to an older guy in order for that person to offer money to the girl's family, allowing them to improve their financial position. In India, early marriage is still common, and it is associated to high and uncontrolled fertility, as well as a higher risk of termination and sterilisation by emerging twenties.

While stricter enforcement of those laws policy initiatives is vital in preventing forced marriages, education and training assistance for teenage spouses and their spouses and children in relation to family organising are also explicitly stated in order to minimize the fertility health implications of this socially appropriate exercise.

End-Notes:
  1. Contraception for adolescents in low- and middle-income countries: needs, barriers, and access, Reproductive Health 2014 11:1
  2. UNFPA, 2015, Girlhood, not motherhood: Preventing adolescent pregnancy, New York: UNFPA
  3. Neal S, Matthews Z, Frost M, et al, 2012, Childbearing inadolescents aged 1215 years in low resource countries: a neglected issue. New estimates from demographic and household surveys in 42 countries, Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2012;91: 111418
  4. WHO. Adolescent Pregnancy: Fact sheet. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2012
  5. United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF); 2008
  6. UNICEF. Children and Women in India: a Situational Analysis. New Delhi, 1991
  7. UNICEF. Maternal Newborn Health: The State of World's Children 2009. New York: United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF); 2008
  8. https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/articles/child-marriage-and-hiv/
  9. Lang K, Nuevo-Chiquero A. Trends in Self-reported Spontaneous Abortions: 19702000. Demography. 2012;49(3):9891009.
  10. Fam Plann Perspect. 1998; 30:23643.
  11. https://www.unicef.org/india/media/1176/file/Ending-Child-Marriage.pdf
  12. Government of India. National Family Health Survey. 2015-2016.

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