Condition of adolescents India among the worst: UNICEF

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New Delhi, Feb 25 (PTI) Home to 20 per cent of theworld''s adolescent population, India has one of the worsttrack records in their health and education parameters,according to a new report by the UNCIEF.

Almost 47 per cent of girls in the age group of 11 to19 years are underweight in India, which is the highest in theworld, a UNICEF report on the ''State of the World''s Children''released here today saidAlso a total of 56 per cent of girls and 30 per centof boys in the age group are anaemic which places the countryalong with the least developed African nations.

The report says that around 25 per cent (243 million)of Indians belong to the age-group of 11-19 years. Almost 40per cent of the section is out of school and 43 per cent getmarried before the age of 18, out of whom 13 per cent becometeenage mothers.

School attendance in the 11-13 years age group is 86per cent and 14-17 years is 64 per cent.

On the positive front, the report shows that thenumber of girls who got married before the age of 18 years hasdecreased from 54 per cent in 1992-93 to 43 per cent in2007-08. But the figure is the eight highest in the world andPakistan fares much better with just 25 per cent of girlsgetting married before the age of 18 years.

Some 6,000 adolescent mothers die every year and thereis a 50 per cent higher risk of infant deaths among motherswho are aged below 20 years.

Adolescents with correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS is35 per cent in boys and 28 per cent in girls.

The report further said that about one-third ofadolescents report physical abuse and about one-third ofadolescents report sexual abuse.

"Certainly, now 74 per cent of adolescents are inschool. Most of them are getting primary education. But thereis a high-drop out rate afterwards, both in male and females.

It is still an area of concern," Karin Hulshof, countryrepresentative for UNICEF said.

On child marriage, she said, there is a gradualdecline in the marriage before 18 years but still the ratio is"far from satisfactory".

The lack of knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS, health,abuse and unemployment are other areas where a lot of workneeds to be done.

Hulshof said "health and reproductive services andknowledge" must be provided to every person in the age group.

Blaming poverty for the poor state of adolescents inIndia, MP and Convener of the Parliamentary Forum on ChildrenNaveen Jindal said, "We have to ensure that no adolescent isdenied of environment of opportunity."He said "poverty and responsibility bring earlymaturity and loss to adolescence." PTI KAB SPC

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