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'1/5th of women aged 20-24 yrs become mothers before adulthood'

At least 22 per cent women aged 20 -24 years became mothers before attaining adulthood in India, says a UNICEF report.

The report titled "The State of the World Children 2012" by UNICEF based on a survey conducted in the period 2000-2010, says as many as 30 per cent female adolescents aged 15-19 years were married compared to only five per cent male adolescents.

47 per cent women, who are 20-24 years old, were married before they were 18 years old and 18 per cent of women aged 20-24 years were married or were in union before they were 15 years old.

The report also states that the adolescent birth rate (number of births per 1,000 adolescent girls aged 15-19) in the country is 45.

It also states that 57 male adolescents aged 15-19 between 2002-2010 think a husband is justified in beating his wife under circumstances, while 53 per cent female adolescents also think so.

On the justification of wife beating, the report also mentions that 54 per cent of women aged 15-49 years consider a husband to be justified in hitting or beating his wife for at least one of the specified reasons - if his wife burns the food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, neglects the children or refuses sexual relations.

The UNICEF report also states that 12 per cent of males and females in the country between 2000-2010 were involved in child labour.

As per the UNICEF report published in 'The Lancet', eight per cent female adolescents aged 15-19 had sex before the age of 15 between 2005-2010 as compared to only three per cent for male adolescents.

On adolescents having comprehensive knowledge of HIV, the UNICEF report points out that 35 per cent of young men and 19 per cent of young females (aged 15-19) correctly identify the two major ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV (using condoms and limiting sex to one faithful, uninfected partner), reject the two most common local misconceptions about HIV transmission and know that a healthy-looking person can be HIV-positive.
Females in India in 2010 have 105 per cent life expectancy as compared to their male counterparts, which means the number of years newborn children would live if subject to the mortality risks prevailing for the cross section of population at the time of their birth.

he percentage of women (aged 15-49) in the country currently using contraception is only 54 per cent.

India is also shown to have 0.3 per cent prevalence of HIV among estimated adults (aged 15-49) in 2009, while it is estimated to have 2.1 to 2.8 million number of people (all ages) living with HIV in 2009. On the mother-to-child transmission of HIV, the report states that there are also 8.8 lakh estimated number of women (aged 15+) living with HIV in 2009.

The percentage of population below international poverty line of USD 1.25 per day is 42 per cent in India between 2000 -2009 and the average rate of inflation in the country between 1990-2010 is six per cent, as per the report.

The UNICEF report also mentions India has 30 per cent of population urbanised in 2010 and the average annual growth rate of urban population is 2.5 per cent between 1990-2010 and is projected the same between 2010-2030. India has average growth rate of 3.6 between 1970-1990, as per the report.

However, the National Plan of Action for Children, 2005 had also identified complete abolition of child marriage as one of its priorities, yet the practice continued across the country with highest incidence in states of Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

According to the 1991 Census, the percentage of married females in the total number of females in the age group 10 to 14 was 13.2 in Rajasthan, the highest in the country. In second place was Madhya Pradesh at 8.5 percent, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 7.1.

For the country, the percentage of married women under the age of 18 stood at 53.3 per cent. The situation did not change substantially in the following decade.

The 2001 Census reports that there are nearly 300,000 girls under 15 who have given birth to at least one child.

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