Around 27 per cent of women in Telangana get married before the legal minimum age of 18 years. (Representational image)
Hyderabad: According to a 2019-2021 national family health survey (NFHS) report, around 27 per cent of women in Telangana get married before the legal minimum age of 18 years. While this is frequent in the rural areas, this is prevalent even in the city as some housewives give their nod because they themselves were married at a younger age or because their daughter is not willing to earn.
A woman rights activist in the city, P.A. Devi said that parents want to get their teenage daughter married as soon as they find out about her affair as they think that this could bring disrepute to the family.
"This decision is supported by all the basti people. A dowry amount is fixed," she said.
K. Sheetal, a 15 year-old working as a domestic help, said that her eldest sister, who is 19-years-old, was forced to marry when she was 15 years old.
Most of the underage marriages took place during Covid-19 as income had stopped for poor families, added Devi.
B. Harini, a 16-year old who stays in a hostel, used to earn some income when she visited her father, who is watchman, by taking pets for walks, sweeping or cleaning. However, her father Shiva Kumar sent her back to the hostel, as she refused to give him her earnings. He threatened to get her married.
The NFHS report states that 18 per cent of women reported that their husband was related to them by blood. The age-group of these women is between 15 and 49 years.
The report says that some girls who get married early are unaware of the legal age.
According to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, those in any way involved in a child marriage could be jailed and be fined up to Rs.1 lakh.
However, the fact is that child marriages continue to be performed in one part of the state or the other.