Over the past decade and a half, India achieved an appreciable reduction in child marriages, with the percentage of women aged 20-24 years married before age 18 declining from 47 (NFHS-3, 2005-06) to 23 (NFHS-5, 2019-21). Regrettably, the Covid pandemic has most likely disrupted this trend and threatens a reversal of the gains, as suggested by several surveys and media reports.
UNICEF estimates that over the next decade, up to 10 million more girls will be at risk of becoming child brides as a result of the pandemic, while the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) projects a figure of 13 million additional child marriages globally over the 2020-2030 decade. Even by conservative estimates, the projections of the potential impact of Covid on child marriages are alarming. Considering that over 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India every year, imagine the implications it has for the country, especially for states with a high prevalence of child marriages.