Child marriages increased due to COVID19: Andhra Pradesh tops list in South India

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%.