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NCPCR report reveals a significant decline in child marriages across India, prevalence highest among SC/ST castes

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, in its report released on Tuesday, has stated that the number of girls getting married in the 15-19 years age group has come down significantly in the last decade. The NCPCR report states that from 26.5% in 2005-06, the percentage has come down to 11.9% in 2015-16.

The report is based on comparative data analysis in child marriages from the third and fourth rounds of the National Family Health Survey. It has been prepared by a research center named Young Lives India, in collaboration with the NCPCR. The report states that according to the NFHS, the prevalence of girl child marriage in the 15-19 age group is 14% in rural India and 6% in urban India respectively.

According to reports, what is cited as worrisome by experts is that despite declining trends there are still 100 districts spread across 14 states where the prevalence is higher than the national average. Bihar leads in the maximum number of districts with higher prevalence rate (20). Amongst all the districts Murshidabad in West Bengal has the maximum prevalence rate at 39.9% with Gandhinagar (Gujrat) and Bhilwara(Rajasthan) following with 39.3% and 36.4% respectively.

State-wise prevalence of girl child marriage in 15-19 years age group. Courtesy: NCPCR report

The report also states that the prevalence of child marriage is negatively impacted by the family’s economic status, with 16.6% prevalence seen in bottom tercile households while top tercile households showing only 5.4% prevalence.

The report also focuses on pregnancy and childbirth rates among teenage mothers. The sample data shows that more than a quarter of the married teenagers have had a child before they turned 17. it cites societal pressure and lack of reproductive health awareness as the main causes of teenage pregnancies and childbirth. 4.2% of the total number of teenage married girls were found to have 2 or more children.

The data also revealed that the highest percentage(15%) of teenage married girls was found amongst the scheduled tribe (ST) castes followed by SC castes with 13%. The report also states that 38% of teenage married girls have a low body mass index and were at the risk of being under-nourished.

The report also states that there is a direct correlation between education and child marriage. The data showed that girls who have completed secondary school education are less likely to be married before they turn 19. The prevalence of child marriage is the least (2.4%) among girls who have completed secondary school education while it is significantly higher in girls with no education and primary school dropouts.

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