TIRUPATI: Andhra Pradesh has stood top among the five southern States in underage marriages (below 18 years) among women aged 20-24 years. It has recorded the highest rate of 29.3% in underage marriages as per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5). Kerala has registered the lowest rate of 6.3%. The rate of underage marriages in AP has declined to 29.3% in NFHS-5, compared to 33% in NFHS-4.
Telangana has stood second in the rate of underage marriages with 23.5%, followed by Karnataka with 21.3% and Tamil Nadu with 12.8%. The NFHS-5 was conducted from July 2 to November 14, 2019. The survey covered a total of 11,346 households. Of the total respondents, 10,975 were women and 1,558 men. Anantapur and Prakasam recorded the highest underage marriage rate of 37.3% each, followed by Kurnool with 36.9% in the State.
Prakasam and Kurnool which topped the list in NFHS-4 with a rate of 46.1% and 43.5%, recorded a marginal decline in underage marriages in NFHS-5. Rural areas recorded the highest underage marriage rate of 32.9%, compared to 21.7% in urban areas.
The survey recorded several instances of women in the age group of 15-19 years had already become mothers. A few districts in the State showed an increasing trend in NFHS-5, compared to NFHS-4. ICDS officials told TNIE that the outbreak of Covid-19 led to increase in the rate of underage marriages. According to information obtained by TNIE, 42 child marriages were stopped in Chittoor in 2019. The number rose to 138 in 2020 and it declined to 34 in 2021, the officials added.