A total of 12 million child marriages have been recorded in the country according to the census data of 2011, of whom 7 million are boys and 5 million are girls below their respective legal age of 21 and 18 years, according to a report released by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
The report released on Thursday — titled A Statistical Analysis of Child Marriage in India Based on Census 2011 and made by the government’s apex child rights body and the research organisation Young Lives — has identified 70 districts in 13 states with the high incidence of child marriages. The report acknowledged that overall there has been a dip in child marriages, but it pointed out anomalies.
Desegregation of data shows that Maharashtra with 16 districts (including several urban districts) has the most districts with high incidence of child marriage. The state’s Bhandara district registered a five-time decadal increase in child marriage among girls and 20-fold decadal increase among boys.
The 70 districts surveyed have 14 per cent of the country’s population but account for 21 per cent of the total child marriages. The report documents the incidence of child marriage, which can be defined as the number of ever married persons before reaching the legal age of marriage (18 years in the case of girls and 21 years for boys) in the total population of that particular age group.
Rakesh Srivastava, secretary with the Ministry of Women & Child Development, said: “Our ministry’s National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC), 2016, has a goal to reduce prevalence of child marriage for girls to 15 per cent by 2021 in National Family Health Survey (NFHS) V.” Renu Singh, the country director for Young Lives India, said: “It has been seen that the child marriage of the girl affects the education of the boy as he has to drop out to repay the loan taken for the marriage.”