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The policy and program discourse around early marriage has increased significantly over the last decade in India. For example, several national-level policies formulated since 2000, including the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, have advocated special program attention to delay age at marriage and to enforce existing laws against child marriage. Also, programmatically several initiatives have been launched to prevent early marriage. Despite these commitments, substantial proportions of girls continue to marry in adolescence. As recently as 2005–06, 47 percent of women aged 20–24 were married by 18 years nationally. While the situation of married young women in India has been increasingly documented, evidence on the ways in which early marriage limits girls’ lives and compromises their reproductive health and choices is limited. This policy brief documents the magnitude of early marriage in Maharashtra and sheds light on the ways in which early marriage compromises young women’s lives and reproductive health and choices. Data are drawn from the Youth in India: Situation and Needs study, a subnationally representative study undertaken for the first time in India of key transitions experienced by young people in six states of India.






Youth in India: Situation and Needs Study