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Over 37 per cent girls marry before 18 in Orissa: UNICEF

Praising the state government for successfully reducing the infant mortality rate by more than 25 points, state chief of UNICEF said that still 37 per cent girls get married before the age of 18.

Shairose Mawji, the state chief of UNICEF said while addressing a function marking the release of State of the World's Children report.

"This has serious repercussions particularly on the health of young women when we consider child birth," she said adding over 14 per cent women aged 15-19 years were already mothers or pregnant at the time of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-III) in 2005-06.

Main reason for all this is lack of education especially among women, she pointed out adding, in rural parts of the state, girls are less likely to attend school than boys and this gap increases by age.

The minimum legal age for marriage in India is 21 years for boys and 18 years for girls.

"Between the age of 6-10 years, 86 per cent boys and 82 per cent girls attend school. But by the age of 15-17, only 32 per cent boys and 13 per cent girls continue their education," she said quoting the report.

She, however, said that the state government had successfully reduced infant mortality rate by more than 25 points since 2001, one of the highest drops by any state in the country.

"We have also seen good progress in securing primary education for both boys and girls in Orissa," she said.

In terms of information among Orissa's adolescents and youths of 15-24 years of age, as per the report, only about 73 per cent had heard about AIDS while only 25 per cent males and 11 per cent females had correct and comprehensive knowledge of HIV & AIDS.

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