child marriage
Child bride Krishna, 14, sits with her four-month-old baby outside her houseREUTERS

The prevalence of child marriage in India is the highest amongst Scheduled Tribe girls (15 per cent) followed by Scheduled Castes (13 per cent), according to a report released by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

The report which was released on the NCPCR website on Wednesday is based on a comparative analysis of data on child marriage in the 15-19 age group from the third and fourth rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NHFS) conducted in 2005-2006 and 2015-16. The report has been prepared by Young Lives India, a research centre, in collaboration with the NCPCR.

According to the report, this phenomenon is evident among the top 10 states with the highest prevalence of child marriage.

West Bengal has the highest rate of child marriage amongst SC girls, while in Arunachal Pradesh it is highest among Scheduled Tribes. In other cases, Maharashtra has the highest percentage of girl child marriage.

Furthermore, Bihar, Gujarat, and Telangana report a very high prevalence of child marriages amongst OBC girls below the age of 18.

However, according to the report, a comparative analysis of child marriage for 15-19-year-old girls as reported in NFHS-3 (2005-06) and NFHS-4 (2015-16) reveals that the overall prevalence of child marriage has reduced to a large extent in the last 10 years in a large number of states.

Substantial reduction of child marriage (more than 20 percentage points) is observed in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in the age group of 15-19.

The findings also reveal that prevalence of girl child marriage in the age-group 15-19 years is significant in rural areas as well as certain states and UTs which have large pockets of child marriage within urban areas such as Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Manipur.

According to the release, some factors like economic status and women's educational level are associated with child marriage. It is observed that child marriage is more prevalent among women from bottom wealth tercile households.

In 13 states and one UT, more than 40 per cent of the child marriages took place amongst the bottom wealth tercile households.

The findings also show that completion rate of secondary schooling is considerably higher amongst unmarried girls aged 15-19 years in almost all states.