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February 22, 2010

Approximately 50% women marry before turning 18

Child marriage continues to remain a big problem in the country, with half the women getting married before attaining the minimum legal marriageable age of 18 years, according to a study released by Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Feb 21.

Marriage before 18"Marriage happens very early for most of the women in most states - one fifth were married below the age of 15 years and 49% were married before turning 18," said the study.
The study was conducted in six states - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan & Tamil Nadu - between 2006 & 2008, involving over 58,000 youths in the age group of 15-29 years.

Findings show that the situation was worst in Bihar -- 77% of women were married before the age of 18.

"Not only did marriage occur at young age but it was also often arranged without the participation of young people themselves, particularly young women. Majority of them said that their parents did not seek their approval while selecting their spouse," the study added.

The study found that early marriage is followed by early pregnancy & almost 47% of young women had their first pregnancy before they turned 18.

"Married adolescent girls 've unique healthcare needs & many of these become mothers before they 're physically & mentally ready for this role. We need to set up exclusive forums for adolescent girls in villages to ensure their multi-dimensional development needs 're addressed," said Azad.

The study was carried out by the Population Council , Delhi & International Institute of Population Sciences , Mumbai.

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