GUWAHATI: In a disturbing development – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura – have earned the dubious distinction of having organized the very high number of child marriages in the country.
The latest report on India Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) reveals that Assam, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh are among 12 States with child marriage rates higher than the national average.
The report 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), even though 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 and 24 years old were found to be 11.9 per cent and 26.8 per cent respectively.
The report revealed that the rate of child marriage was higher than the national average in 12 States – Assam (16.7), Tripura (21.6) and Arunachal Pradesh (12.1), West Bengal (25.6 per cent), Rajasthan (16.2), Gujarat (13.1), Jharkhand (17.8), Bihar (19.7), Maharashtra (12.1), Andhra Pradesh (16.6), Telangana (12.9) and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (17.5).
An official of the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights quoting the report said 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 wealthy households are also reported to be married before 18,” he said.
The report, while attributing lack of education to high rate of child marriage, stated that 30.8 per cent of uneducated girls between 15 and 19 years and 49.3 per cent in the 20 to 24 age group were found to be victims of early marriage.
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).