VIJAYAWADA: Krishna district topped the list of child marriages as 20,584 girls married below their legal age in 2015-16 out of the total 1,71,083 child marriages in the state, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4. Anantapur, Visakhapatnam and Chittoor follow Krishna district in child marriages.
To analyse the grass root situation, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in collaboration with Young Lives India had conducted a state-level consultation meet on child marriages with the government departments and NGOs concerned.
Members of NCPCR and experts opined that lack of awareness among people, especially in agencies, social stigma and economic backwardness were identified as root causes for child marriages.
Participants at the meet said that over the years, child marriage was showing a decline in India. However, the incidence of child marriage in terms of numbers still remains high, especially in rural India.
With the 2011 census, NFHS revealed that around 47.4 percent of the women aged 20-24 got married before they attained 18 years in India. Similarly, 32.3 per cent of men aged between 25 and 29 got married before their legal age of 21. In the overall population, 2.4 percent of girls were reportedly married off before 18 years and 2.5 per cent of boys before 21 years.
On Thursday, to analyse the grass- root reality in Andhra Pradesh, members of NCPCR along with State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) and Young Lives India explained their observations to the government departments to develop a strategy towards tackling the issue of child marriage at the state level.
“Economic backwardness among rural people is one of the reasons for rising child marriages as parents feel the birth of a girl child as a burden,” NCPCR member secretary Geetha Narayan said.
According to S Balaraju of SCPCR, “Parents want to send their daughters out of home once they are matured.”
“SCPCR has information that child marriages are happening especially in hamlets and in rural areas where there is an absence of higher education. Child marriage rate is high among illiterate families in the state,” S Bala Raju opined.
In Andhra Pradesh, NHFS 4 data reveals Krishna district stood top in child marriages. Women and child welfare department (WCD) officials along with NGOs have stopped only 229 child marriages since 2014 in Krishna district.