Children are seen as the backbone for the growth of this country which has a high percentage of young people in its population. But the growth and development of these tender souls is hampered when they are deprived of education and are forced into marriage.
According to a recent report by an autonomous sociological group, a whopping 35000 children in Gujarat, falling between the age group of 10 to 14 are married. Among them, over 9000 are males and the majority is constituted by girls. Also 1009 are widowed and many are separated or divorced.
The problem has been found to be widespread in rural Gujarat and primarily in the much neglected tribal belt, where it is seen as a social norm. Among the tribes the Bhils have the highest numbers with 11000 children married.
The number of married teenagers is more among SCs living in urban areas as compared to rural areas. Many tribals have migrated to urban areas but have strongly held on to their traditional practices. The census shows that the government and society have failed to tackle this issue in the state.