Written By Rihan Shareef
Child marriage is an issue grappling Modern-India affects lives of young individuals in terms of their health, education, livelihood, and aspirations. The passage of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in 2006 was in line with the shocking data that was presented in the Mid-term Appraisal of the 10th Five-Year Appraisal which showed new causes of Child Marriages. The number of child-marriages stood around 44% while surveying women between 20-24 age group in 2009.
Impact of Child marriages
Before getting into the analysis of act itself, it is necessary to understand of consequences of child marriage on young adults and particularly girls. A UNICEF report suggests that the grave consequences of the child marriage, the increased chances of domestic violence, infection of sexual diseases such as HIV/AIDS, complications due to pregnancy and death related to it. It almost ends the possibility of further education making women ending education at high school level. The added responsibility of shifting to the matrimonial household of the male member and managing the house due to customary practices in the country.
Impact of Legislation
While looking at the impact of this legislation, it has largely been a successive one. However, no impact can be enough looking at the severity of the issue at hand, India being the country with highest number of child marriages, nearly 1/3 of the total in the world. However, the records show that from the earlier record of 44%. In the most recent National Health and Family Report published at the national level of 2015-16, the child marriage rate was nearly 25%. This a 20% decrease in a short span. In the latest National Health and Family Report 5 of States, some states display figures nearing 10%. Even, UNICEF has recognised the impact of the legislation in its report. The chances of rigorous imprisonment and being fined heavily for male adults for getting into child marriages and even solemnising or even supporting child marriages had worked as a deterrent for the institution of child marriages. 
The legislation was also successful in criminalising marital sexual relationships with a woman below the age of 18 which is the age of consent. The Supreme Court in Independent Thought v. Union of India had struck down the exception 2 clause of IPC Section 375 which enabled sexual relationships between a minor aged above 15 and husband even if it is done without the consent of the girl  Hence, the legislation has given female minors broad set of criminal proceedings they can initiate. The awareness about helpline numbers for the victims has also helped boost a large number of cases and reporting which would have previously gone un-reported.
Effect of Pandemic and Way Forward
However, it is important to understand that this legislation was not the only factor that has driven down cases of Child marriage. This could be evident by understanding there a hike in cases of child marriage during the pandemic. As government benefits and schemes were not reaching these groups. One such benefit was the Right to Education, which ensured women had access to free and compulsory education. With the lack of educational opportunities and also the mid-day deal that helped families. Further, the job loss and economic burden caused by the pandemic are factors that has led to the increase in child marriages. This is an indicator that the mental thinking of the society about child marriage has not changed significantly and continues to bear the effects of the patriarchal society as earlier.
We can conclude that, while the Act has been successful in preventing and reducing child marriages significantly over the years. Its impact has been negligent in the times of the pandemic suggesting that the law in isolation has limited success. It was the combination of government schemes along with the awareness of this law which enabled success. Hence, it is of utmost importance to roll back the government welfare schemes to these communities and to also engage in long term actions to change the mentality of the society.
 Restraining Child Marriage (2009). Economic and Political Weekly, 44(15), 7-7
 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, §9 & 10, Acts of Parliament,2006(India)
 Independent Thought v. Union of India,2017 SCC Online SC 1222