Child Marriage in India

4546 Words Mar 16th, 2011 19 Pages
Child Marriage in India
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JShulman@uchicago.edu
To be defined at length in a later section, child marriage is most simply, for our purposes, a marriage in which the wife is below the age of eighteen at the time of consummation. The practice of child marriage in rural India is deeply rooted in cultural values and grounded in social structures. And despite laws that prohibit child marriage, the practice is still extremely prevalent in many regions. Though the statistics are contentious, it is estimated that in some parts of India, like the state of Rajasthan, nearly
80 percent of the marriages are among girls under the age of fifteen” (Gupta,
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HIV/AIDS is becoming widespread, and as it reaches new populations, it poses new problems. As child marriage is fundamentally a rural phenomenon in India, the particular plight of HIV in rural areas must be discussed.
Issues like how to educate and provide treatment for people in poor, rural areas are emerging, and new cultural pockets of Indian society must be understood in order to more effectively implement these programs.
Though contentious, recent figures estimate that roughly 2-3.6 million people in
India are infected with HIV. This places India third worldwide for the number of HIV cases within a country. “Overall, 0.36% of India’s population is living with HIV.” While this may seem low, given the vast population of India, the actual number of people who are HIV-positive is remarkably high (Overview of HIV/AIDS, 2008). And in Rajasthan, the largely rural state in which the project will be conducted, it is believed that there is a prevalence of nearly 5%--extremely high for India (“AIDS in India,” n/d).
Many who work in the health sector claim that they are witnessing a rapid rise in infections to new populations. “Sujatha Rao, director-general of the government’s
National AIDS Control Organisation, says doctors are increasingly seeing women infected by their husbands,” a population typically not targeted by reproductive health programs (“Vast Distances a Barrier,” 2008; Santhya & Jejeebhoy,

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