NEW DELHI: High prevalence of child marriages was found in Bihar, West Bengal and Tripura where over 40 per cent women were married before they turned 18, according to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
The survey covered 22 states and UTs in the country.
Andhra Pradesh (12.6 per cent), Assam (11.7 per cent), Bihar (11 per cent), Tripura (21.9 per cent), West Bengal (16.4 per cent) reported the highest number of women aged 15-19 years who were already mothers or pregnant at the time of the National Family Health Survey-5.
The NFHS-5 is being conducted on 6.1 lakh sample households, involving household-level interviews to collect information on population, health, family planning and nutrition related indicators.
Bihar (40.8 per cent), Tripura (40.1 per cent) and West Bengal (41.6 per cent) were among the states where the highest number of surveyed women aged 20-24 years reported to have been married before they turned 18, which is the legal age for marriage.
Assam (31.8 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (29.3 per cent), Gujarat (21.8 per cent), Karnataka (21.3 per cent), Maharashtra (21.9 per cent), Telangana (23.5 per cent) and Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu (26.4 per cent) were other states and UTs where high number of women aged 20-24 years reported to have been married before they turned 18, the survey said.
Meanwhile, men who got married before the legal age of 21 were much lower in nearly all the surveyed states and UTs in comparison to women.
Assam (21.8 per cent), Bihar (30.5 per cent), Gujarat (27.7 per cent), Tripura (20.4 per cent), West Bengal (20 per cent) and Ladakh (20.2 per cent) were among states and UTs where comparatively higher percentage of men aged 25-29 years got married before turning 21, the survey said.
The NFHS results of 17 states and five UTs (Assam, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal, Mizoram, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu) have been released now as Phase-I. Phase-II covering other states will be released next year, the Health Ministry had said.