Andhra Pradesh has topped the list of the five South Indian states when it comes to underage marriages, says the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5). Telangana has been ranked second on the list while Kerala has come last.
The NFHS-5 was conducted from July 2 to November 14, 2019, and covered 11,346 households. Compared to the 33% in NFHS-4, the rate of underage marriages in Andhra Pradesh has declined to 29.3%. However, this is still the highest among the five states in South India. This refers to women in the age group of 20-24, who were married before they turned 18.
According to the survey, a few districts in the state showed an increase in the percentage of child marriages in NFHS-5 as compared to NFHS-4. The survey also documented several cases where women in the age group of 15-19 years had already become mothers.
According to a report by the New Indian Express, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) officials said that the Covid-19 pandemic had led to an increase in the number of child marriages in the state.
The districts of Anantapur and Prakasam recorded the highest underage marriage rate with 37.3% each, followed by Kurnool with 36.9%. Telangana stands second among the southern states in the rate of underage marriages with 23.5%. Karnataka is ranked third with 21.3% and Tamil Nadu comes fourth with 12.8%. Kerala has registered the lowest rate at 6.3%.