By Ambika Pandit
The Times of India (12.09.2018) –https://bit.ly/2OdGMVH– A report on child marriage and teenage pregnancies that analyses the data from National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) shows a direct co-relation between underage marriages and educational status of girls.
Citing low prevalence rates where girls have completed secondary education, the report by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and voluntary organisation Young Lives makes a pitch for making secondary level schooling a fundamental right.
Findings show the completion rate of secondary schooling is considerably higher among unmarried girls aged 15-19 years in almost all states. Even National Human Rights Commission secretary general Ambuj Sharma emphasised the need to extend the right to education from Class VIII to the secondary level.
The NHRC is also planning to recommend to the ministry of women and child development a uniform age for marriage for both men and women. In 140 countries, age of marriage is 18 for both men and women. Last month the law commission in a consultative paper on family laws suggested the legal age for marriage for both men and women across religions should be recognised at 18 years, the universal age for majority.
The study based on NFHS-4 data shows that of the 15 to 19 year old girls, who at the time of the survey reported to have been married before the legal age of marriage, 30.8% had never been to a school and 21.09 % had education up to the primary level. The percentage of girls who had secondary education and were married before 18 was 10.2%.
Those with higher levels of education were further down to 2.4%. While overall prevalence of child marriage declined from 26.5% in 2005-06 to 11.9% in 2015-16. Bihar is a case in point. The state recorded a significant decline in child marriages from 47.8% in 2005-06 to 19.7% in 2015-16.
The study also reveals that amongst the married girls aged 15 to 19 years, 31.5% girls were found to be have babies. Almost a quarter of the married girls in the age group of 15 to 16 years had at least one child.
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