New Delhi: While gender
equality remains a distant dream in India, 37 percent of lower
income groups (LIGs) in five major cities of India believe the
ideal age for a girl to marry is between 16 to 18 years, a study
released here Wednesday said.
According to knowledge, aptitude and practice (KAP) report on
lower income groups by voluntary organisation CRY (Child Rights
and You), 48 percent of people in Delhi believe girls should be
married before they are 18.
In Mumbai, the financial capital of India, the percentage of LIGs
favouring marriage for under 18 girls is a shocking 86.2 percent.
This is despite the fact that legal age for marriage for girls is
The study was done in one slum each in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata,
Chennai and Bangalore with a sample size of 500.
The study, which was done to find the mental set up for education
of girl child in lower income groups, also reveals that this is
despite awareness about legal age of marriage and in general
agreement that education is more important and 85.4 percent felt
girls should be sent to school till they are 18.
"The commonest problem for girls dropping out of school is
non-availability of separate toilets in schools. Besides, there
were issues like eve teasing (molestation) on way to school, no
transport, and of course child marriage," informs Yogita Verma
Saighal, director-mobilisation and volunteer action, CRY.
"Where child marriages are involved, girls are not sent to school
after marriage on the pretext that they will get spoiled," Saighal
As per the study, half of the respondents said they knew school
girls in their locality getting married and 48 percent said the
girls were not allowed to go to school after marriage.
Chennai was at the worst position, with 70 percent respondents
claiming knowing school girls who were married and discontinued
"If this is how urban India thinks, we cannot imagine what the
situation will be in rural areas," Saighal added.
Neeti Vaid, assistant professor in Delhi University's department
of communication, who volunteered for the study, said they found
child marriage to be common in Delhi slums during their study.
"There are 12-14 years old girls getting married and getting
pregnant in the slums of Delhi," said Vaid.
Saighal added that awareness of government schemes like Right to
Education was very low.