Many girls who are married off before they turn 18 or are forced into early marriages are made to leave school, depriving them of their right to education and future independence. Child brides are also more likely to experience domestic violence.
Because young girls who are married off are more likely to have children while still physically immature, they are at higher risk of dying from pregnancy and childbirth complications, and their babies have a reduced chance of survival too, according to the World Health Organization.
Child brides who have children may also be psychologically unprepared and ill-equipped to become mothers at such a young age. By robbing girls of a chance to learn, grow, and fully realize their potential, child marriage systematically disempowers them. It ensures that they remain dependent on others all their lives, strips them of their agency, makes them vulnerable to abuse, and can trap them in a cycle of poverty. In cultures that do not see girls and women as potential wage earners, they’re may be considered a financial burden to the family. In these cases, families living in poverty who have several children may arrange a marriage for their child to reduce their economic burden: One less daughter to take care of means one less mouth to feed and one less education to pay for. Girls may also married off to offset debts or settle conflicts, effectively acting as a substitute for money.
Both early teen marriage and dropping out of high school have historically been associated with a variety of negative outcomes, including higher poverty rates throughout life. Are these negative outcomes due to pre-existing differences, or do they represent the causal effect of marriage and schooling choices? The negative outcomes associated with early marriage and dropping out of high school have the potential to affect not only the individual making the decision but also her children and the rest of society. For example, a high divorce rate combined with low wages and a larger family size increases the number of children living in poverty and receiving state assistance. Prime minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of 74th Independence Day while addressing the nation, stated that a committee had been set up to reconsider the minimum age for marriage of girls. While every decision has its consequences, this too has its own. The change in law seems like a good initiative and would bring about change, but, not everything is all rainbows. The decision has split the government as for some; it sounds like a step to reduce malnutrition, control the population and increase education amongst women; for others, it gets the sums wrong. Some believe that it would help women to exercise legal powers incase of marriage below the age of 21. Others ween that this would increase the number of child marriages as girls getting married between the age group 18-21 would add to the number of child brides. Continuing the argument, it is also evident that premarital sex is just as much of a taboo as sex education in India. Thus, reconsidering the minimum age for marriage of girls is feared to deny unmarried pregnant teenagers to get proper healthcare facilities.