A report by the Kerala government shows that more than 4.37 per cent of women who delivered babies in 2019 were aged between 15 to 19 years. In fact, some of these women were birthing their second or third child during the period.
Despite several measures for women empowerment in the state, the data reflects the prevalence of child marriage in the state. The most surprising factor was that 15,248 women out of the 20,995 women who delivered that year belonged to the urban areas.
Majority of Muslims
Of the total mothers under the age of 20, 316 had their second child, 56 delivered their third baby and 16 had their fourth child. On a religion-wise break-up, Muslim women accounted for 11,725 mothers, 3,125 were among Hindus, and 367 were Christians. According to the data from the Kerala Police, from 2016 to July 2021, 62 cases were linked to child marriage prohibition.
The Indian Express reported that one of the most surprising factors was that most of these young mothers were educated. More than 16,000 of the total had passed Grade 10, and only 57 were illiterate. Only two out of the total 109 maternal deaths belonged to this age group. The crude birth rate had declined from 14.10 in 2018 to 13.79 in 2019. The highest rate of younger women becoming mothers was in the Muslim dominated Malappuram, followed by Wayanad and Kozhikode. The lowest crude birth rate was seen in Ernakulam and Alappuzha districts.
Only 30% Live Births From Rural Areas
The state recorded more than 3 lakh (70 per cent of the total) live births from urban areas compared to the 1,40,314 births in the rural areas. The significant shift of people belonging to the child-bearing age group from rural to urban areas can be one of the defining factors of this statistics.