NPR

UNICEF's Good News About Child Marriage Isn't Quite As Good As It Sounds

A new report cites tremendous progress in bringing down rates of child marriage, especially in India. But critics raise concerns about some of the data points.
Durga, now 21, was married in her northern Indian village at the age of 15. Her father, who forced her into the marriage, has since had a change of heart and is striving to dissolve the union. Source: Swati Vashishtha for NPR

A report released this month by UNICEF has been cause for celebration in India, the country with the highest number of child marriages in South Asia each year. According to the newly released data, the annual number of child marriages in the country has dropped by nearly half in the last decade.

"India has seen an overall decline. A decade ago, 47 percent of all girls between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before they turned 18," said Dhuwarakha Sriram, child protection specialist at UNICEF India. "Now that number is down to 27 percent of girls, or about 1.5 million girls per year."

Because India's population is so great, the country's downward trend is being credited by UNICEF for significantly bringing down the global numbers of child marriage.

Authorities in India are congratulating themselves.

There are indeed reasons for optimism. Sriram believes

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min read
Claudia Grisales Joins NPR's Washington Desk
In a note to newsroom staff Senior Washington Editor, Beth Donovan, and Deputy Washington Editor, Shirley Henry, announced this staffing update: All — We are delighted to announce that Claudia Grisales will be NPR's newest congressional reporter. Cla
NPR2 min read
To Safely Study Volcanoes, Scientists Bring The Blast To Them
Studying active volcanoes can be dangerous. Which is why a group of scientists from around the world came together to simulate volcanic blasts. What they're learning will help them at a real eruption.
NPR6 min readPolitics
'The Economy Is Slipping': China's Slowdown Hits Former Boomtown
He Qiang should be manning his convenience store, but today he's collecting tiny green berries along the road and shooting them at birds with his slingshot. The 26-year-old is distracting himself from his worries. He spent all his savings — the equiv