Pune: Even in this age, around 24.5 per cent girls in Pune district are married before the age of 18 years, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) - this, when child marriage is illegal in India.
This not only forces the girls to drop out from schools but leaves them financially dependent on their spouse and families. Many girls rescued from such marriages said that their opinion to marry or continue their education was never asked by parents.
Speaking to Sakal Times, one of the girls whose wedding was prevented when she was 17, said that her wishes were completely ignored.
"My marriage was stopped by some activists, however, my parents never asked for my consent. My marriage was arranged and I was kept at home until I turned 18 and my in-laws' have asked for dowry during the wedding. Now, that I have turned 18, they are asking for more money to take me back home," said the girl.
Girls' education ignored
She further expressed disappointment as she could not study for her standard 12 examination.
"I wanted to complete my education, but now everything has come to a standstill. I face violence at home from my brother as now I am a 'burden' on my family members. My parents insisted on marrying me off early because they feared I may fall in love with someone at school and bring shame to my family," said the girl.
Among young women age 15-19 in Maharashtra, eight per cent have already begun childbearing, that is, they have already had a live birth or are pregnant with their first child.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Sonali Kunjir, Joint Secretary to Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) at Pimpri-Chinchwad said that parents fear a lot about girls which leads them to take such steps like early marriage.
"Girls this young are not ready mentally, emotionally and physically ready to start a family. Many girls face problems after they get married. Their in-laws complain that the girls go out and play with kids and do not know how to speak to guests. This is simply because the girls are young and not ready for marriage.
In such cases, many girls get pregnant. Though they are not ready to take care of the child and themselves in this crucial time," said Kunjir.
* 24.5%: girls in Pune district are married before the age of 18 years according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4).
* 8 %: Among young women, age 15-19 years in Maharashtra have already begun childbearing, i.e. they have already had a live birth or are pregnant with their first child.
* The proportion who have started childbearing is much higher among young women who had no schooling (24 per cent) than those with 12 or more years of schooling (3 per cent).