Half of Indian women get married before 18: UNFPA

Half of Indian women get married before 18: UNFPA

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) A third of the world’s child brides are in India with about half of Indian women having married before they turned 18, said United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

“Adolescents (10-19 years) form 21 percent of India’s population, of which adolescent girls constitute 48 percent (115 million). Despite improvements on several key development indicators, there are still issues which limit adolescents, especially girls, from achieving their full potential,” said a press release issued by the UNFPA.

“Around 14 per cent of girls aged 15-19 years are illiterate, and 73 per cent never get to complete more than 10 years of school,” UNFPA said.

India accounts for a third of the world’s child brides; about half of Indian women are married before they turn 18, it said.

“The Facts like these, makes the global theme of this World Population Day, ‘Investing in Teenage Girls,’ especially relevant and important for India.”

World Population day is observed on July 11 every year, which seeks to raise awareness about global population issues.

“The new development agenda calls on us to leave no one behind,” said the UNFPA press release, citing Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.

Osotimehin emphasised that leaders and communities must focus on and stand up for the human rights of the most marginalised teenage girls, particularly those who are poor, out of school, exploited, or subjected to harmful traditional practices, including child marriage.

“Marginalised girls are vulnerable to poor reproductive health and more likely to become mothers while still children themselves. They have a right to understand and control their own bodies and shape their own lives,” Osotimehin said.

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