There has been a significant drop in the number of child marriages worldwide and India contributed significantly to the global decline in the practice, the United Nations children's agency Unicef said on Tuesday.
"While South Asia has led the way on reducing child marriage over the last decade, the global burden of child marriage is shifting to sub-Saharan Africa", it added.
"South Asia has witnessed the largest decline in child marriages worldwide in the last 10 years, as a girl's risk of marrying before her 18th birthday has dropped by more than a third, from almost 50 per cent to 30 per cent, in large part due to progress in India", the UNICEF stated.
Some 650 million women today were married as children.
The legal marriage age in India is 18 but millions of children are forced to tie the knot when they are younger, particularly in poor rural areas.More news: Turkish troops, FSA clear key village in Syria's Afrin
In 2011, Bangladesh had a child marriage rate of 52 percent, Bangla daily Prothom Alo reported citing government statistics.
Globally, one in five girls are married before 18 now, as compared with one in four a decade ago, Unicef said.
Poverty, ideas of family honor, social norms, customs and religious laws are factors that could force girls into child marriages. "But given the world has pledged to end child marriage by 2030, we're going to have to collectively redouble efforts to prevent millions of girls from having their childhoods stolen through this devastating practice". The agency says that unless further progress is made, more than 150 million additional girls will marry before their 18th birthday by 2030. "Her odds of finishing school decrease while her odds of being abused", said Anju Malhotra, UNICEF's principal gender adviser, in a statement. About a third of the world's child brides are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Unicef's report highlights how the increase in girls "and adolescents" education rates and public campaigns about the illegality of child marriage have helped to reduce the practice. In Ethiopia - once among the top five countries for child marriage in sub-Saharan Africa - the prevalence has dropped by a third in the last 10 years.
An estimated 12 million girls under 18 are getting married every year globally, according to new data from UNICEF released on Tuesday, March 6, NAN reports.