Child marriage still a problem in Andhra Pradesh

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Over 30 per cent of girls are married off before they reach 18, says a NFHS report.

Vijayawada: Despite an increase in awareness programmes in the state, child marriages are rampant, with Krishna district standing first in the state with around 20,584 child marriages on an average.

Reports of district-level household and facility survey (DLHS) and Nati-onal Family Health Survey (NFHS) clearly state that cases of child marriage had increased in the state.

At a state-level meeting on consolidation of child rights held in the city on Thursday with Minister for Woman and Child welfare Peethala Sujatha, officials of 12 departments discussed measures to check child marriages.

The NFHS report for 2015-16 indicates that around 32.7 per cent of women in the age group of 20-24 years were married before they attained 18 years of age in AP, while 23.5 per cent of men in the age group of 25-29 years were reported married before the legal age of 21.

S. Balaraju, incharge chairperson of State Com-mission for Protection Of Child Rights, said an analysis made by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in collaboration with Young Lives India, based on Census 2011 data, showed that in AP, 2.32 per cent of girls (1,71,083) got married below their legal age of 18 years; while only 1.8 per cent of boys (1,72,934) below their legal age of 21 years were reportedly married.

He said Krishna district marks the highest incidence of girl child marriages in the state, followed by Anantapur 16,738, Visakhapatnam 16,876, Chittoor 15769 and Kurnool 16,532. He said Krishna district also stood first in male child marriages with 19,557 boys got married before the age of 21, followed by Kurnool, Visakhapatnam and Anantapur.

S. Muralidhar Reddy, member of State Comm-ission for Protection Of Child Rights, said officials prevented 2,215 marriages in the state in 2014-16 with information from locals.

“We are unable to stop child marriages due to the lack of coordination between various departments,” he said. It is identified that poverty, lack of education and increase in migrants was the main reason for child marriages in state.

Minister Peethala Sujatha directed the officials to focus on child marriages. She stressed on making marriage registrations compulsory and asked officials to work collectively in implementing GO No. 13.

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