The Population Council undertook an exploratory, qualitative study in two districts in Rajasthan, India to understand the extent of implementation of various policies and programs intended to prevent early marriage, and the extent to which such efforts have found acceptability among parents and the community. Findings show that adolescent girls had a clear desire to marry after the age of 18 and that they were well aware of what they would have to give up with marriage—their education, childhood, health, and opportunities to explore other interests. Some parents also noted these disadvantages of early marriage, suggesting that beliefs may be changing, though many are yet to act on these new beliefs. The study participants made several suggestions for interventions that would go beyond existing information campaigns and the level of policy formulation to address fundamentally the social norms and economic factors that are driving early marriage in these districts. Mobilizing the community to resist early marriage through active engagement rather than passive communication efforts, promoting real access to education for girls, providing livelihoods training for girls, offering financial incentives to parents to delay the marriage of their daughters, eliminating dowry, enforcing existing laws and levying penalties for violators, and fostering gender equity were the top suggestions for action.
Santhya, K.G., Nicole Haberland, and Ajay Kumar Singh. 2006. "'She knew only when the garland was put around her neck': Findings from an exploratory study on early marriage in Rajasthan." New Delhi: Population Council.