The rate of child marriage practice in the coastal State has dropped in the last year, thanks to a joint initiatives by government functionaries and child rights activists.
If the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 for 2020-21 years conducted by the ministry of health and family welfare is any indication, the girl child marriage rate has dipped by 20.5 percent while the male child under-age marriage rate has dropped by 13.3 percent in the State.
This fact sheet provides information on key indicators and trends for Odisha. Due to the Covid-19 situation and the imposition of lockdown, NFHS-5 fieldwork in phase 2 States/UTs was conducted in two parts.
The NFHS-5 field survey in the State was conducted from 19 January 2020 to 21 March 2020 prior to the lockdown and from 30 November 2020 to 31 March 2021 in the post-lockdown. The survey was conducted under the stewardship of Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR). The surveyors had gathered data from 26,467 households, 27,971 women, and 3,865 men, according to officials.
Besides finding the drop in child marriage, the NFHS-5 sex ratio found reduction in sex ratio at birth. The State showed improvement in women with 10 or more years of schooling. No change in status of women below the age of 19 either getting pregnant or attaining motherhood was recorded. In a brighter note, the survey found significant improvement in institutional birth. Besides, the status of stunted, wasted and underweight children is found to have been reduced in the State. In a disturbing trend, anemia, a condition in which there is a deficiency of red cells or of hemoglobin in the blood that results in pallor and weariness, has increased among children and women. However, it is stable among men.
Meanwhile, the State’s women and child welfare department claimed that over 2,000 child marriages were averted in the State in the past three years while as many as 4,000 villages have become child marriage free.
As many as 2,176 child marriages were stopped from 2018 to 2020 as authorities backed by civil society groups swung into action to thwart the bids to marry off minors in contravention of legal provisions, said officials of the Women and Child Welfare Department.
While In 2017, 411 child weddings were stopped, 657 such marriages were thwarted in 2018. In 2020, as many as 1,108 child marriages were also stopped, they said.
The legally permissible age for girls and boys to get married is 18 and 21 respectively. In the event, they marry before attaining the permissible age, such weddings come under the category of child marriages.