Child marriages see sharp decline in India

Child marriages see sharp decline in India

Child marriages in India have significantly decreased from 26.5% in 2005-06 to 11.9% in 2015-16, according to the latest report released by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

However, as many as 12 states including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, West Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand still show a higher prevalence of the child marriage than the national average, the report says.

Observing that the completion of secondary education by the girls delay their marriage, the report has recommended that the government should consider making secondary school completion a fundamental right for the girls in India.

It has also advised the government to ensure that the girls from “poor households” are provided with an opportunity to study at residential secondary schools, underlining that the wealth index of the households is “significantly” related to child marriage amongst girls in India.

“Poorer the households, higher the chance of girls getting married early,” the report has said.

The report has been prepared jointly by the NCPCR and the Young Lives India, a non-government organisation.

The study findings reveal that the prevalence of girl child marriage in the age-group 15-19 years is significant in rural areas.

However, there are certain states including Union Territories which have “large pockets” of child marriage within urban areas. Some of these states are Haryana (41%), Tamil Nadu (37%), Maharashtra (33%) and Manipur (32%).

“The findings are particularly important because any campaign to prevent child marriage in India must focus on rural areas,” the report stressed.

Analysing the National Family Health Survey (NHFS) data for the year 2005-06 and 2015-16, the report has noted that the highest prevalence of child marriage is amongst the Scheduled Tribe (ST) girls (15%) followed by the Scheduled Caste (SC) girls (13%).

“However, when we analysed child marriages amongst the top 10 states with the highest prevalence of child marriage we found that this phenomenon is occurring across caste groups,” the study team noted in their report.

For instance in Arunachal Pradesh, 72% of the sample aged between 15-19 years who had child marriages belong to ST while 38% of such girls belonged to other castes in Maharashtra reported the highest percentage of married girls before 18.

“Furthermore, while Bihar, Gujarat and Telangana report the very high prevalence of child marriage amongst OBC (other backward class) girls, West Bengal has the highest prevalence of child marriage amongst SC girls,” they added.

According to report, Karnataka's Bagalkot is among the top 100 districts in the country showing the high prevalence of girl child marriage. The percentage of child marriage in Bagalkot was pegged at 20.2 in the report.


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