Malappuram: With a recent circular on Muslim marriage age triggering a raging debate in Kerala, the latest reports indicate that there has been decline in the rate of underage marriages in Malappuram district during the last few years.
According to the latest data available with the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS), as many as 2, 698 underage girls got married in Malappuram in 2012. In 2001, the average underage marriage rate in the district was about 25,000.
For the years 2001, 02 and 2003, it was reported an average of 25, 000 underage marriages in the district. During 2007-09, the underage marriage rates declined to 5829. The report points out the decline in the number of underage marriages in the district over the years.
In 2012, there were only four marriages below the age of 14, while 338 marriages were reported in the age of 14 - 16. 2090 of the 2356 brides in the age group of 16-18 were Muslims, 144 were Scheduled Castes, and 14 were Scheduled Tribe girls and 166 from other communities. The highest rates of child marriage were reported from Wandoor (475), Perinthalmanna (483) and Kalikavu (348) while the lowest rates were from Tirur, Vengara and Thanoor.
As per the latest statistics, the total girl population in the age between 11-18 in Malappuram is about 2, 78, 610. Of this, the Muslim girl population is about 2, 04, 771, SC/SC is 20,259 and other communities are 52,467. There were 2374 child marriages reported from Muslim community, while 243 from SC/ST and 166 from other communities.