UNICEF reports a rise in the number of child marriages in Kerala

Kerala may be the only state in India with the highest literacy rate, but it seems the state has not been able to beat the child marriage demon. According to a report by UNICEF, notwithstanding a better gender balance in the southern part of the country, child marriage has been found to be on the rise in Kerala in recent years. ‘In the southern part of India we have a relatively better gender balance which explains lower rates of child marriage. Nevertheless, recent studies have shown a rising rate in Kerala,’ Unicef’s child protection specialist in India Dora Giusti said.

Child marriage – the huge elephant in the room

A report released by Dasra, a philanthropy foundation called Marry me later: Preventing Child Marriage and Early Pregnancy in India released a report on the phenomenon of child marriage in India. The report also highlights how millions of girls can lead a healthier life for themselves and their families if they marry later. (Read: Child marriage: When will our girls’ lives be more important than religious sentiments?)

The report says India accounts for the highest share of world’s 60 million child marriages and 61% of women between the ages of 25-49 were married before they turn 18. Some other statistics from the report:
India accounts for 40% of child brides in India, which means two out of every five child brides is an Indian.
47% of Indian girls are married before they turn 18.
22% of Indian girls give birth before they turn 18.
Girls under 15 are five times as likely to die during child birth than women in their early 20s.
Loss of productivity due adolescent pregnancies is $7.7 billion a year.

Ill-effects of child marriage

The reason child marriage is a big concern is because it leads to a host of complications related to adolescent pregnancy which include: 

Hypertension: They have a higher risk of suffering from hypertension during pregnancy than women in their 20s and 30s. They’re also likelier to suffer from pre-eclampsia.

Anaemia: Caused due to lack of red blood cells which is usually due to nutrition deficiency like iron, vitamin B12, folic acid. The most common form is anaemia.

Postpartum haemorrhage: The term refers to a haemorrhage (bleeding) after delivering and is quite common among adolescent mothers. It’s caused due to the four Ts: Tone, Trauma, Tissue and Thrombin. (Read: Priyanka Chopra speaks out against female genital mutilation and child marriage)

With inputs from PTI
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