A workshop held in Vijayawada on Thursday, attended by Women Empowerment and Child Welfare minister P Sujatha has revealed some troubling statistics about child marriage in Andhra.
A shocking 1,71,083 girls below the age of 18 years in the state were married, while the figure for boys below the age of 21, stood at 1,72,934.
According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), Krishna district topped the chart with 20,584 minor girls married, followed by Anantapur, Visakhapatnam and Chittoor.
The NFHS also quoted other statistics from the 2011 census, and concluded that 2.4% of girls and 2.5% of boys in the country were married off before they reached the legal age.
The NFHS survey also says that 11.8% women between the age of 15 to 19 years were already mothered or pregnant at the time of the survey.
According to the survey, amongst women between the age of 20 to 25 years, who NFHS spoke to, 35.5% from rural areas and 26.3% from urban areas were married before the age of 18 years.
The event was organised by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) along with Young Lives India, and sought to chart out an action plan.
According to reports, nine of the thirteen districts in Andhra, witnesses more than 2% of the girls getting married below their legal age, while districts like Anantapur have witnessed a seven-fold increase in child marriages in 2015 alone.
The speakers at the event, suggested that a lack of awareness and poverty were among the main causes for child marriage.
"Parents want to send their daughters out of home once they are matured. SCPCR has information that child marriages are happening especially in hamlets and in rural areas where there is an absence of higher education. Child marriage rate is high among illiterate families in the state,” TNIE quotes S Balaraju of SCPCR as saying.