Published: 25th November 2021
NFHS 5: Every fourth woman aged 20-24 fell prey to child marriage even as percentage drops
The percentage of women who ever experienced spousal violence was highest in Tamil Nadu (38.1 per cent), followed by Uttar Pradesh (34.8 per cent), Jharkhand (31.5 per cent), Odisha (30.6 per cent)
The latest health survey shows the bitter reality of child marriage in modern India, which seems to be on a decline but nowhere close to eradication. Every fourth woman surveyed in the age group of 20 to 24 was married before they turned 18. Although, there is a drop in the overall rate of child marriages, from 26.8 per cent in the earlier National Family Health Survey (NFHS) to 23.3 per cent in NFHS 5. The Health Ministry’s fact sheet released on November 24 covers 14 states and Union Territories clubbed under phase-2 of NFHS-5. The phase-1 findings of 17 states and five Union Territories were released in December last year.
According to NFHS 5, the problem is much bigger in rural India at 27 per cent while in urban India, underage marriage accounted for 14.7 per cent of marriages. The data shows that 6.8 per cent of females aged between 15 to 19 years were already mothers or pregnant at the time of the survey, this is a marginal decline from 7.9 per cent recorded between 2015 and 2016. The rural-urban difference was prominent, with 3.8 per cent of women falling in the early pregnancy category in urban areas and 7.9 per cent in rural areas.
Men aged between 25 to 29 years who were married before the legal age of 21 was 21.1 per cent in rural areas and 11.3 per cent in urban India. Overall, such men accounted for 17.7 per cent between 2019 and 2021 as compared to 20.3 per cent between 2015 to 16.