Influence of First Wave of Covid-19 Pandemic on Adolescent Girl’s Marriages in Jharkhand, India

Hanimi Modugu, International Center for Research On Women (ICRW)
Nasreen Jamal, ICRW
Nalini Khurana, ICRW
Tanvi Jha, ICRW
Triloki Nath, ICRW
Binit Jha, ICRW
Ravi K. Verma, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

With closure of schools for more than a year and drop in income amid pandemic, reports indicate increase in incidence of child/forced marriages in South Asia. Aim of this research is to understand influence of pandemic on incidence of marriages among 15–18-year-old girls, identify girls vulnerable for early/forced marriage and measure agency of girls to negotiate timing of marriage and bridegroom with parents. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in February-March 2021 with 479 girls and 477 parents in Jharkhand, India. Two-thirds of surveyed girls perceive that ‘’likelihood of their marriage has decreased due to pandemic’’. Similar proportion of girls also echoed, ‘’they did not notice any increase in incidence of marriages during pandemic as compared to 2019’’. Out of surveyed, 7% girls are already married, most being child marriages. This proportion was 12% in 2019. Around 23% parents and 28% girls reported ‘’there was discussion about index girl’s marriage during pandemic’’, makes them vulnerable for early/forced marriage. Also, 7-10% parents want to perform marriage in next 6-12 months. With increased agency of girls to negotiate timing and selection of bridegroom with parents, from 14% in 2019 to 39% now, we are optimistic majority of the proposed 7-10% early/forced/vulnerable marriages will be averted.

Keywords: COVID-19, Applied demography

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 202. COVID-19 and Widening Inequalities