XXVI IUSSP International Population Conference
27 September–2 October 2009
Consequences of early marriage on young women’s lives and reproductive health and choices: Evidence from the Youth in India: Situation and Needs Study
Usha Ram and K.G. Santhya
In India, substantial proportions of girls continue to marry in adolescence. However, evidence on ways in which early marriage limits girl’s lives and compromises their reproductive health and choices is limited. Drawing on data from a representative survey of young people in five states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan, this paper examines the consequences of early marriage on the nature of married life, young women’s agency and gender-role attitudes, and their sexual and reproductive practices. Preliminary findings suggest that early marriage inhibits young women’s involvement in marriage-related planning, their decisionmaking autonomy, and their self-efficacy. It also places young women at risk of physical and sexual violence within marriage, and it inhibits them from adopting gender-egalitarian attitudes. Finally, women married early were less likely to have used contraceptives to delay the first pregnancy and more likely to have experienced pregnancy loss.
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