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Early Marriages and Their Effects on the Welfare of Community

Every human being has a right to his childhood, which in some ways is the happiest and most blessed part of his life.

It is difficult to find a good word for the system of early marriages.  Their effects upon the welfare of community seem to be wholly evil.  In India, some of the evils are obscured and partially mitigated by the joint-family system, for the inexperience of the young parents is supplied by the older members of the family;   but in spite of this, the system is a serious hindrance to the development of the nation. Every human being has a right to his childhood, which in some ways is the happiest and most blessed part of his life.  But too many Indian children are robbed of their heritage.  They must take up the burden of parentage before they are men and women.

Very early child-bearing must always be injurious to the wife, and often results in a serious damage to her health.  Many Indian women are old when their European sisters are in their prime of beauty and health. In many cases the boy-husband suffers in another way.  When the cares of parentage and a family are thrust upon him in extreme youth, he has not the time, leisure or opportunity for mental development. His education is hampered.  Moreover, being always dependent on his family, he cannot so easily learn the blessing of independence. 

The European has first to make his own position in life, and does not dream of marrying until he can by himself support his wife and family in comfort.  But the Indian is a husband and father while yet a boy. The inexperience of child-parents is party responsible for the terrible extent of infant mortality in India.  What can children fourteen years old know of the nurture of their own children?  Ignorance and inexperience, results too often in the quite unnecessary death of the babies. The only argument that can be brought in favour of early marriages is that they tend to the rapid increase of population.  But this may not be altogether a blessing.  If a country is already overpopulated, a rapid increase simply means poverty for the many.  In any case it means the perpetuation of a low standard of comfort.

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