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45% Indian women married before 18
February 23, 2007 16:40 IST
Nearly 45 per cent of women in India were married before they turned 18, according to a latest government survey.
The National Family Health Survey III, carried out in 29 states during 2005-06, also shows that in eight states the figure is as high as 50 per cent.
"What is alarming is that majority of women are getting married before attaining the legal age of marriage," said Kamla Gupta, Chief Coordinator of NFHS III.
"We have a law in this regard. But despite the law, the survey shows that in several states a high proportion of girls are getting married before 18 years," she told PTI over phone from Mumbai.
The survey of women aged between 20 and 24 years showed that the worst situation is in Jharkhand and Bihar.
While 61 per cent women in Jharkhand were married off before 18, in Bihar it was 60 per cent. Similarly in Bihar 57 per cent women were married off before attaining 18, the number stood at 55 per cent in Rajasthan.
In Andhra Pradesh, the figure was 55 percent, while in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, it was 53 per cent each, followed by 52 per cent in Chhattisgarh.
Gupta said this could be one of the reason behind infant and maternal mortality.
"Early marriage impacts a woman's health and education. It shows that women are getting married early and giving birth also at an early age. It directly impacts her and her child's health. This is how we see so many infant mortalities because the woman's body is not ready," she said, adding lack of education was a major reason behind the trend.