Explained: How marriage age and women’s health are linked -Nushaiba Iqbal

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published Published on Aug 27, 2020   modified Modified on Aug 27, 2020

-The Indian Express

PM Narendra Modi has announced a panel to fight malnutrition in young women and ensure they get married at the right age. A look at how the two are linked

During his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “We have formed a committee to ensure that the daughters are no longer suffering from malnutrition and they are married off at the right age. As soon as the report is submitted, appropriate decisions will be taken about the age of marriage of daughters.”

Reports suggest the minimum age of marriage for girls may be raised from 18 at present to 21.

* How prevalent is underage marriage?

Data show that the majority of women in India marry after the age of 21. Chart 1 shows the mean age of women at marriage is 22.1 years, and more than 21 in all states.

This does not mean that child marriages have disappeared. The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) found that about 26.8% of women aged 20-24 (Chart 2) were married before adulthood (age 18).

* How does the age of marriage correlate with health?

Preventing early marriage can reduce the maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality ratio, according to Dipa Sinha, professor of economics at Ambedkar University. At present, the maternal mortality ratio — the number of maternal deaths for every 100,000 children born — is 145. India’s infant mortality ratio shows that 30 of every 1,000 children born in a year die before the age of one. Both these indicators in India are the highest among the BRICS economies.

Young mothers are more susceptible to anaemia, said Shweta Khandelwal, Head of Nutrition Research and Additional Professor at the Public Health Foundation of India.

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The Indian Express, 27 August, 2020, https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/marriage-minimum-age-women-health-6571340/


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