top of page

Tying the Knot Too Soon: Unveiling the Controversy of Child Marriage

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Adolescence is the growth spurt age wherein all the developmental progress and attainment happens within an individual. There is an anticipation of a child's physical, mental, cognitive and even emotional growth to occur in the initial ages, and the period between a child hitting puberty and entering adulthood is the most crucial time in the development stage. The span of 8-9 years, including early and late adolescence, is considered the time when an individual can neither be called a child nor an adult. However, the development process of an individual happens in many phases that start right in the womb and transition through infancy, early and middle childhood, puberty, and adolescence.

Even when a child is yet to develop and attain maturity in all aspects, there is a silent yet very prevalent practice of Child marriage that has its roots in society. Child marriage involves marriage before the age of 18, which is even before an individual is categorised as an adult. Though this tradition is prevalent worldwide and most developing and developed countries are severely affected, it is still endemic in the African and Southeast Asian subcontinents, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, etc. Reports by UNFPA state that with 31% of girls getting married by the age of 18, the East and Southern Africa area has among the highest rates of child marriage in the world.

“In the 15 to 19-year-old age range, every third teenage female is married, and every other married adolescent girl has given birth to a child.”

The highest proportion of married girls before age 18 is in the Rajasthan district(40.8%), followed by Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.  According to UNICEF(2021), Around 10 million more child marriages might happen by 2030, invalidating the fact that the numbers have gone down in the past years.

And though this tradition includes the involvement of both sexes, in most cases, the girl is likely to marry before age 18. Child marriages are worse for girls than for boys since the girls are usually younger than the boys. 80% of the girls are married off as child brides, and since the proportion of girls marrying off younger is quite huge, the effects and negative implications of child marriage can also be seen on girls more than boys.

Physical Health of Adolescents

A girl child who is yet in the stage of physical development, when married off before 18 years, faces enormous consequences, not just on her emotional and mental well-being, but drastically on her physical health as well. According to studies, It is by the age of 20-25 years when biological, psychological and physical maturity is attained fully by a child. When marriage is happening at an earlier age than expected, it is a prerequisite that the girl is likely to engage in sexual intercourse with her husband, irrespective of the fact, whether she has attained physical and sexual maturity or not. This early engagement in sexual activities wherein neither the body of the girls has achieved development nor do they have enough knowledge about the same leads to serious physical health issues.

Problems Faced by Married Adolescent girls
  • Sexually Transmitted diseases(STDs)

One of the major concerns faced by adolescent girls is contracting Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs), including AIDS/HIV. Marrying at a younger age, when their sex organs are not readily built, makes them more prone to contracting these sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover, in most cases, these girls are married to much older partners who have multiple partners before them, hence being more susceptible to transmitting the same.

Also, The lining of the vagina, at a younger age, is not covered with protective cells, which leads to easy breakage of the cervix, hence causing vaginal tears, which serve as an accessible mode of transference of the disease. Hence Lacerations of the hymen, vagina, or cervical region speed up the transmission rate of STDs.

In addition to that, most of the married girls below 18 years of age have little or no knowledge about protected sex and the use of contraceptive, which increase the likelihood of the girls getting infected with such infection.

Hence, the unintended, prolonged and continuous unsafe sexual intercourse that a girl child is made to perform because of societal pressure and in the attempt to prove their fertility puts them in a risky situation of STD transmission.

  • Early Pregnancy and its Effects on mother and child

Other significant physical distraught that child marriage brings in the lives of adolescent girls are early pregnancy, maternal mortality and high infant mortality rate. A girl who has not attained her full maturity participates in non-consensual sexual activities daily and becomes highly susceptible to bearing a child at such a young age. But since the pelvic and vaginal region of the girl has not yet shown total growth, they are unable to conceive a child and hence either give birth to a stillborn or die in the process, leading to higher levels of maternal and infant mortality rates.

According to WHO(2016), One of the leading causes of mortality for females between the ages of 15 and 19 is complications related to pregnancy and delivery.

Also, according to studies conducted, females married between the age of 10-19 who conceive during this time, are five times more likely to die during childbirth, because of their complicated pregnancy and their body’s inability to handle a new generation yet. Therefore, because of their pelvic bone underdevelopment, they are unfit for bearing a child in their womb and hence delivery is even tougher.

  • Obstetric Fistula

Moreover, even though a girl is married since she is still in puberty, she is in dire need of good nutrition that could lead to the development of her body. But early in a woman’s gynaecological development, pregnancy and lactation reduce micronutrients like iron and make young moms more susceptible to anaemia. Along with that, they face a severe issue of Obstetrics and fistula. “Obstetric fistula is the presence of a hole between a woman’s genital tract and either the urinary or the intestinal tract”.

Obstetric Fistula, which is currently faced by 88% of girls who are married early, leads to a considerable number of physical distortions, especially sexual, bringing in complications in the urinal tract and bladder, infections or vaginal issues. It even leads to faecal or urinal incontinence, wherein the girl loses control over her bladder because of the hole in her genital tract, exposing her to a massive lot of humiliation in society.

Currently, in today’s society, there are already 2 million girls who are currently in the grasp of this problem, and its rate is not diminishing as the number is continuously increasing by 75000 new cases per year. Child marriage robs a girl of her youth, endangering her bodily and mental health and violating her internationally recognised human rights. A teenager in the growth and development phase is responsible for taking care of her family and their development, which affects her physically, biologically, socially, and emotionally.

Even though it is mentioned in Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that no one should be forced into marriage since they have the right to do so with their full permission and at a suitable age, many people are nevertheless coerced into early nuptials.

Child marriage is not only an illegal practice that is harming society as a whole, but a significant effect of the same is visible in the development of a considerable number of teenage girls because, as stated and rightly said

“Child Marriage is and will be Injurious to health.”


Bruce, J. (2003). Married adolescent girls: human rights, health, and developmental needs of a neglected majority. Economic and Political Weekly. Retrieved 3rd November 2022 from

Lal, B. S. (2015). Child marriage in India: factors and problems. International Journal of Science and Research, Retrieved 3rd November 2022 from

Nurmala, I., Astutik, F. N., & Devi, Y. P. (2020). Surrounding the reason for women to continue the tradition of child marriage. Retrieved 3rd November 2022 from

Roy, I., & Sarker, A. K. (2016). Early marriage impact on female’s health and their satisfactory level: A distinctive analytical study in Bangladesh. International Journal of Science and Research. Retrieved 3rd November 2022 from

United Nations Population Fund, Child Marriage, UNPF-UNICEF, February 2022.

World Health Organisation, Global health estimates 2015: deaths by cause, age, sex, by country and by region, 2000–2015, 2016.

Wylie, H., 10 million additional girls at risk of child marriage due to COVID-19, UNICEF, New York, March 2021.

11 views0 comments


bottom of page