Over 50 percent Bihar girls marry before they are 18

August 4th, 2010 - 5:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Aug 4 (IANS) Bihar is one of the hotspots of child marriage in India as 51 percent girls there are married even before they are 18 years of age, officials said here Wednesday.
“Fifty-one percent of girls are married before they are 18 in Bihar,” said N. Vijaya Lakshmi, managing director of the Women Development Corporation of the state government.

In her welcome address at a day-long workshop on the prevention of child marriage in Bihar, she said the mean age at marriage for girls is 17.4 in the state as against 19.5 for the country.

“Child marriage is rampant but reporting is poor. Lack of data is a key issue to make a difference,” she said.

According to her, the vicious circle of poverty works in predictable patterns in Bihar. Poverty coupled with other social factors lead to early marriage. The child marriage then leads to deprivation of education and vulnerability to health risks and increases the risk of domestic violence and abuse.

Bihar Social Welfare Minister Damodar Raut expressed serious concern over child marriages in the state.

Raut said even Patna district with a high literacy rate accounts for 40 percent child marriages.

The highest number of child marriages was reported from West Champaran district as 80 percent of girls there were found to have been married by the age of 17. It was followed by Nawada district with 73 percent of the girls being married before attaining the legal minimum age of 18.

Similarly, 70 percent girls in Kaimur and Rohtas districts and 66 percent in Madhepura district were married below the legal age.

Due to rampant child marriages, about 63.3 percent of married women in the age group of 15-49 in Bihar are anaemic and the infant mortality rate is as high as 61. Skilled birth attendants were present at only 30 percent of births and institutional births accounted for barely 22 percent.

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