Bhubaneswar, Apr 10: The 2011 Census has revealed a horrific truth about plight of girls in the country and the failure of social welfare programmes and campaigns to prevent early marriages and pregnancies.
As per a report published in TOI, of the 59.09 lakh girls below the age of 15, 41,729 girls (0.7%) were already married.
Around one-fourth of the married girls (10,685) in the same age group had delivered before celebrating their 15th birthday. While 3,896 (9.34% of those married) had become mothers of at least one child, 6,789 girls (16.27%) had delivered two children. [Child marriage, sexual abuse with minor girls alarmingly high in India: When will it stop?]
Same is the case in other parts of country as well. India had the highest number of unregistered children under age five between 2000 and 2012 and the second-highest number of child marriages, according to a UN report which said the country still needs to improve immunisation coverage and stop gender-based sex selection.
The report 'Improving Children's Lives, Transforming the Future '25 years of child rights in South Asia' by the United Nations' children agency UNICEF analyzes the progress made over the last quarter century on key issues that directly affect the lives of children in the region.
At 71 million, India had the largest number of children under the age of five whose births were not registered between 2000-2012. [India has second-highest number of child marriages: UN report]
The report said that birth registration levels in South Asia have increased since 2000, but progress has been slow. India, along with Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives, has been recording "significant improvements" in birth registration but about 100 million children in the region are still not registered at birth.
India has the greatest disparity between the poorest and richest households, with children in the poorest households being three times less likely to be registered than those in the richest.
Religion also appears to play a role as Muslims have the lowest level of birth registration in India (39 per cent) followed by Hindus (40 per cent) while the Jains have the highest (87 per cent).
The highest rate of child marriage is in Bangladesh (where two out of every three girls marry before age 18), followed by India, Nepal and Afghanistan.
It is time the policy-makers take care of these problems so that the country has an overall development and a better future.