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Shocking Number: 12 Million Children Married Before Age 10

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Each year, millions of Indian children are married well before the legal age. Child marriages are illegal in India but the practice is growing.

Today, 12 million children were married before turning age 10, according to IndiaSpend. This goes on despite the legal age for marriage being 18 for girls and 21 for boys. 

Most child marriages occur in rural regions in secret, where boys and girls often marry extremely young for economic reasons. Eighty-four percent of these children are Hindu, and 11 percent are Muslim.

In these areas, the majority live on $1 a day. As a result, girls are considered to be extreme burdens to their families. Parents will pay less of a dowry the earlier their daughter is married. 

After the girls are married, they move in with their husband's family relieving the parents of the financial burden.

In addition to a loss of innocence, girls become isolated from their families and friends and lack any education opportunities. Eighty percent of illiterate children married before age 10 are girls.

Watch George Thomas's investigative report on child brides in Rajasthan, India.

In northern India, the Haryanian state government began a program that gives eligble poor families financial incentives to keep their daughters unmarried until age 18. The girls in these families had a lower risk of being married before 18 compared to others.

Girls Not Brides is also a global initiative that partners with more than 550 organizations from 70 countries who are committed to ending child marriage and propelling girls to reach their fullest potential.

"Child marriage is perhaps the most urgent human rights and development challenge of our time," the organization has stated

"Child marriage harms girls, their families, communities, economies and nations the world over. If we are to fulfill the potential of the more than 140 million girls who are predicted to be married by 2020, or for the millions who are already married today, we must act swiftly and strategically," they said.

Find out more at Girls Not Brides website.

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