PATNA: Despite an overall decline in the rate of marriage among young girls across most of Indian states, Bihar continues to have a comparatively higher percentage of marriage before girls reach the legally prescribed age of 18 years.
According to the recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4, 2015-16) data, 39.1% of women within the age-group of 20-24 years are married before 18 years.
In simpler terms, 2 of every 5 adolescent girls are married off before they complete their higher secondary education.
A comparative analysis done by CRY – Child Rights and You, reveals that the state has registered an improvement of 20 percentage points in under-age marriage over the last decade, as the findings of NFHS-3 recorded that 60.3% of women within the age-group of 20-24 years were married within their teens.
More worryingly, 12.2% of women within the age-group of 15-19 years were already mothers or pregnant at the time of the survey.
As per District Level Household Survey data (DLHS-4, 2015-16), the status of child marriage in the intervention areas of CRY-supported projects in Bihar, Supaul had the highest percentage of underage married, closely followed by Begusarai, Jamui, Samastipur and Gaya districts.
“To address the issue of child marriage on a sustainable basis, the need of the hour is to ensure inter-departmental convergence where schools, ICDS, and panchayati-raj institutions need to play a pivotal role,” State-Lead of Bihar Operations at CRY (Eastern Region) Saradindu Bandhopadhyay said.