Though the practice of early marriage is barred in India, it is still prevalent in many states of India. A number of girls were reported to be married before the stipulated marriage age of 18. The practice is common in the states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. .
According to the Union Health Ministry, data compiled by the latest National Family Health Survey said that more than a quarter of Indian women got married before the age of 18. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) report, conducted during 2005-06, 26.9 per cent of the Indian women in the age group between 20 and 29 got married before they reached legal minimum marriage age of 18 years.
While Bihar tops the list, Jharkhand is at the second place followed by Rajasthan. Andhra Pradesh is fourth in the list of early marriages, according to the survey of NFHS, followed by West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Regarding awareness of the family planning programmes, the survey says, " for the first time ever, more than half of the currently married women in the country (56 per cent) are using some method of contraception.
"Almost half (49 per cent) are using a modern method of contraception. Female sterilisation accounts for more than three quarters (77 per cent) of all modern method use. Among modern spacing methods, the most widely used method is condoms (used by 5 per cent of currently married women). One in five currently married users of a modern method of contraception (21 per cent) uses one of the three modern spacing methods in the Government programme," say the NFHS-3 survey.
"The overall contraceptive prevalence rate is much higher in urban areas (64 per cent) than in rural areas (53 per cent). Urban and rural women are equally likely to be sterilised (37 per cent of currently married urban and rural women age 25-49 are sterilised). The use of modern spacing methods (pill, IUD, and condom), however, is considerably higher in urban areas than in rural areas. Condom use is three times as high in urban areas," it adds.
The survey says there is a huge increase in the past 13 years in the use of contraceptives. "Over the past 13 years there has been a steady increase in the use of modern contraceptive methods, from 37 per cent in NFHS-1 (1992-93) to 43 per cent in NFHS-2 (1998-99) and further to 49 per cent in NFHS-3. While the use of modern methods in rural areas lags behind, use of modern methods has increased steadily in both urban and rural areas.