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Child Marriage Free India

A fresh initiative is the need of the hour to fight against the prevalence of “child marriage” in our society. India reported the highest number of child marriages in the world among other countries where this evil tradition is still in practice. Estimates*  show around 23.3% of girls between the age group of 20-24 years have been married before they turned 18. 

Multi-Pronged Strategy to Address Child Marriage



Women leadership and participation for a positive impact on enrollment of girls in school leading to elimination of child marriage


  • Girls at high risk of getting married before 18 years to be sensitized and protected

  • 100% enrolment of all children in schools and providing access to quality education till 18 years of age

  • Providing residential and financial support for girls who do not wish to marry and want to pursue studies or other vocational skills 

  • Women Self-help groups to be mobilized and sensitized on empowering girls and supporting them in upgrading their home-based skills and life skills  


SDG Target 5.3: Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation

  • Engaging adolescent girls and women to sensitize them on eliminating harmful practices in the society to achieve SDG goals

  • Capacity building and sensitization of stakeholders on the provisions of law and its implementation including the convergence between different departments

  • Conducting awareness building programmes among the society and children about Child Helpline, Police Helpline and any other Government Helpline 

  • Ensuring that the issue of child marriage is included in the curriculum of school children and also ensuring that the back cover page of each text book contains details of all the Helplines that a child may like to approach in situations of distress


Bring focus on girl’s health and nutrition 

  • Awareness and access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to avoid risk of adolescent pregnancy

  • Health workers to sensitize adolescent girls and women on increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) 

  • Frequent discussions and sensitization on intimate partner violence/gender based violence 

  • Access to health care services without any bias and stigma 

  • Budgetary allocations to ensure that children have free access to education and other skill development programmes till the legal age of marriage


Developing local leadership through children, women and youth groups

  • Creating public awareness in villages on child marriage

  • Strengthening community and village level institutions (Sarpanch, religious leaders, local authorities)

  • Enhanced participation of village council and Sarpanch focused on addressing the issue

  • Positive shift in the community to address child marriage cases


Legal action against child marriage

  • Appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officer (CMPOs) in every district

  • Graded punishment for child marriage depending upon the criminality associated with the offence under the Act.  For instance exemplary minimum punishment of 10 years for solemnising or permitting child marriage when the age of child is less than 14 years; minimum punishment of 5 years for solemnising or permitting child marriage when the age of child is between 14-18 years; minimum punishment of 2 years for solemnising or permitting child marriage when the age of child is between 18-21 years

  • Provision of life imprisonment where a person is sold or bought for the purpose of marriage

  • Attempt to marry a child to be made an offence 

  • Mandatory reporting of a child marriage irrespective of whether it is about to take place or is taking place 

  • Non-reporting also to be made an offence with punishment of imprisonment that may extend to six months and fine however, child should be exempted from punishment

  • Accountability of public servants including CMPOs and the Panchayati Raj Institutions (as per Section 166 and 166 A of IPC) when information is received regarding a child marriage is taking place or is about to take place. 

  • Enabling provisions for girls who are below the age of 18 years if they want to make a complaint against sexual exploitation within marriage


Highlighting the significance of the campaign, Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi said, “I call upon our countrymen, social organizations, all communities, parents and government agencies to come forward and light a Candle/Diya in solidarity with the victims and women of our country and pledge to stop the social evil”.

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