New Delhi: The country reported an increase in child marriages over the last three years, with maximum number of cases being registered in Tamil Nadu.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development on Friday informed the Lok Sabha that a total of 326 cases were registered in 2016 under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. This number was a sharp increase from the 293 cases that were registered in 2015. Additionally, it was also much more than the number of such cases registered in 2014 (280).
Minister of state Virendra Kumar further laid out data with respect to states and union territories. The maximum number of cases in 2016 were reported from Tamil Nadu (55), followed by Karnataka at 51. Other states that saw a high number of cases of child marriages were West Bengal (41), Assam (23), Telangana (19), Andhra Pradesh (19), Maharashtra (16), Haryana (14), Gujarat (12).
States like Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim Jammu & Kashmir reported such case in the last three years. Puducherry, which had no case of child marriages in 2014 and 2015 registered 5 in 2016. The national capital registered two such cases in 2014, no case in 2015 and one such case in 2016.
The MoS further said that while the government was undertaking media campaigns and outreach programmes to address the issue, there was a need to step up awareness by "undertaking drives highlighting the evil effects of this practice."
The data came a day after Kumar, in the Rajya Sabha, said that according to National Family Health Survey, the percentage of women (in the age group 20-24 years), who were married before legal age, had reduced from 47.4% in 2005-06 to 26.8% in 2014-15. “Further, as per analysis of Census 2011 data by NCPCR, 'nil' marriages were reported in the age group of 0-9 years for both boys and girls,” he said.
The minister further said that child marriages did have health effects, especially for girl which included “increased fertility span resulting in early pregnancy, birth complications, delivery of low birth-weight babies, increased maternal and infant mortality rate.
When asked on the areas in the country where child marriages still prevailed, Kumar said that as per Census 2011, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Jharkhand reported the highest percentage of child marriage both among boys and girls.