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More boys married off before 21, says survey

New Delhi:  Yet again confirming the prevalence of child marriages in India, a new health survey has revealed that more boys than girls are getting married before the legal age of 21 years.

The survey has also revealed that every fourth girl marrying in rural Rajasthan and every fifth in Bihar and Jharkhand are below the legal age of 18 years.

The mean age for the marriage of females varies from 19.7 in Rajasthan to 22 years in Uttarakhand. For males, the mean marriage age is 22.2 in Rajasthan and a maximum of 27.6 in Assam.

A new health survey has revealed that more boys than girls are getting married before the legal age of 21 years.

The survey also reveals for the first time that a woman on an average gives birth to more than three children in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan, with the highest of 5.9 children reported in Shrawasti district of Uttar Pradesh.

The Total Fertility Rate (TFR), the average number of children born to a woman during her entire reproductive span, is 3.6 for Uttar Pradesh and 3.7 for Bihar, where women in rural areas in both these states have a TFR of 3.9.

The Annual Health Survey was conducted by the Office of Registrar General, India in all the 284 districts (as per 2001 Census) in eight Empowered Action Group States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Rajasthan, besides Assam for a three year period from  2007 to 2009, carried out in 2010 and 2011.

These nine states account for about 48 percent of the total population, 59 percent of total births, 70 percent of infant deaths, 75 percent of under-5 deaths and 62 percent of maternal deaths in the country.

They are the high focus states in view of their relatively higher fertility and mortality, Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, C Chandramouli said.

Uttar Pradesh has also fared poorly in ante-natal care and immunisation of children. Across 284 districts, less than 1 percent coverage of full ANC has been reported in Balrampur district of Uttar Pradesh, while Jagatsinghpur of Odisha reported the maximum (36 percent).

Uttar Pradesh has reported the minimum coverage of 3.9 percent while Chhattisgarh the maximum (19.5 percent) of full ante-natal care, which comprises of three or more check-ups and at least one TT injection along with iron and folic acid consumption in first 100 days.

Institutional delivery is below 60 percent in 170 districts out of 284. Balrampur (Uttar Pradesh) recorded the least of 16.8 percent and Indore (Madhya Pradesh) the most of 92.5 percent.

Jharkhand reported the minimum of 47.1 percent and Madhya Pradesh the maximum of 82.2 percent safe deliveries. About one-fourth of the districts have reported less than 50 percent of safe deliveries. Of 14 districts reporting 90 percent and above safe deliveries, 10 belong to Madhya Pradesh.

Incidentally, at least every fifth mother did not receive any post-natal check-up across all annual health survey states.

On immunisation, 90 districts reported below 50 percent of full immunisation. The minimum immunisation was observed in Rayagada (11.9 percent) of Odisha and the maximum in Kanker (93.2 percent) of Chhattisgarh.

All states except Uttar Pradesh have at least half of their children aged 12-23 months fully immunised. Uttar Pradesh has reported the minimum percentage (45.3 percent) of children fully immunised whereas Uttarakhand the maximum (75.4 percent).

Chandramauli said  the fieldwork for the baseline survey was carried out during July 2010 to March 2011.

He added that with present coverage, AHS is the largest demographic survey in the world and is two-and-half times that of the Sample Registration System.

PTI