3 NE states flagged on child marriage

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Guwahati, September 14: Tripura, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are among 12 states with child marriage rates higher than the national average, according to India Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy report of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
The report, released on Wednesday, also found 13 districts from Assam and Tripura among the 100 high child marriage prevalent districts in the country.
According to the report prepared based on National Family Health Survey (NFHS4), although the child marriage problem showed a declining trend since NFHS3 in 2005-06, prevalence of child marriage among girls aged between 15 and 19 years and 20 to 24 years old was found to be 11.9% and 26.8% respectively.
Child marriage prevalence in rural and urban India is 14.1% and 6.9% respectively for the 15-19 age group and 31.5% and 17.5% respectively for rural and urban areas for those between 20 and 24 years of age.
The report revealed that the rate of child marriage was higher than the national average in 12 states -West Bengal (25.6%), Rajasthan (16.2), Gujarat (13.1), Jharkhand (17.8), Bihar (19.7), Maharashtra (12.1), Andhra Pradesh (16.6), Assam (16.7), Tripura (21.6) and Arunachal (12.1), Telangana (12.9) and Dadar and Nagar Haveli (17.5).
“It is evident from the findings that a girl from a poor family is more likely to get married at a younger age than a girl from a wealthier family. The state-level analysis also highlights that child marriage among girls is so entrenched in certain social groups that a substantial proportion of girls from middle and top wealth tercile households are also reported to be married before 18,” said the report.
Child marriage in the three northeastern states is more prevalent than in Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Chattisgarh, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.
Education was found be an important factor with the report stating that 30.8 per cent of uneducated girls between 15 and 19 years and 49.3% in the 20 to 24 age group were found to be victims of early marriage.
Chiranjeeb Kakoty, co-ordinator of Adolescent and Child Rights Network, a forum of NGOs in Assam, said lack of access to quality secondary education, lack of skill development or proper implementation of the law, lack of universal birth registration and role of religious leaders are some of the reasons. “We need a strong political will to move the agenda of child marriage prevention and take strict action against some people who are allowing child marriage by some communities,” he added.
Analysis of top 100 districts with high prevalence of child marriage reveals that maximum number of districts were in Bihar (20), followed by West Bengal (14), Jharkhand (11), Rajasthan (10), Assam (9), Maharashtra (9), Madhya Pradesh (8), Gujarat (5), Tripura (4), Andhra Pradesh (3), Uttar Pradesh (3), Telangana (2), Karnataka (1) and Odisha (1). (TTNE)