Though the number of girls dropping out of schools in West Bengal has gone down, the state still witnesses a large percentage of child marriages in the country.
Referring to the District Level Household and Facility Survey (DLHS-4) 2012-2013, UNICEF Chief Field Office For West Bengal M Asadur Rahman said that the percentage of under-18 child brides in West Bengal is around 31.6.
“This is quite high and the consequences are multi-dimensional,” Rahman said adding that six districts having border with Bangladesh besides Murshidabad have been witnessing the highest number of child marriage in the under-18 age group.
Though there has been an improvement in almost a decade, a lot needed to be done to reduce it to nil, the UNICEF official said stating the DLHS 3 (2007-08) report that suggested that child marriage in the under-18 age group in the state was 41.3 per cent.
According to Rahman the state government with the introduction of Kanyashree Prakalpa has taken solid step to address the issue and UNICEF has been closely working with them.
And that has witnessed a rise in the number of enrollments of girl students both in the secondary and higher secondary schools, the UNICEF official said. “Since the Kanyashree Prakalpa was launched it has helped the state in addressing this issue and we have seen around six per cent rise in enrollments of students in both secondary and higher secondary schools,” Rahman said.
The UNICEF, however, said that the Kanyashree Prakalpa was not reaching certain pockets in West Bengal including areas in the Sunderbans.
“Still there are several to whom the Kanyashree Prakalpa is not reaching. There are minorities, the SCs, STs and even places in the Sunderbans,” he said adding that the UNICEF was working closely with the DM to address the issue.