Educating girls at least up to intermediate level or above can drastically bring down the rate of child marriages, a study conducted by Council for Social Development (CSD) in the South Indian states. The study titled Statistical Bulletin on Incidence of Child Marriage in South India, provides a comprehensive statistical picture of child marriages among women aged 20-24 years in the Southern states, by comparing two data sets of the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS 4 and 5). According to the study, even though child marriages in Telangana have declined after the formation of the state, it is still marginally higher than the all-India figure. As stated in a report by The New Indian Express, districts with the most child marriages in South India are in Telangana.The bulletins highlighted that around half of the women who had no education or less than five years of education reported getting married before the age of 18 years. However, those with 12 or more years of education showed the least incidents including 3.3 per cent in Kerala, 6.5 per cent in Tamil Nadu, 9.3 per cent in Telangana, 8.8 per cent in Andhra Pradesh and 8.3 per cent in Karnataka. In other words, 12 or more years of completed school education reduces the incidence of child marriage by more than 6.5 times in comparison with those who have no or less than five years of education, the bulletin says.'Emphasising on the secondary education of girl children should be a priority for the government. Districts with higher incidences should be more focused to arrest the prevalence,' said Soumya Vinayan, assistant professor at CSD who co-authored the study with Mohammad Sajid, a research associate and Sujit Kumar Mishara, regional director of CSD.'Under NFHS 3 undivided Andhra Pradesh had registered a marginal increase in age at marriage compared to the previous round. In 2014, Telangana was formed. Therefore, NFHS 4 (2015-16) and NFHS 5 (2019-21) provide a comparison at the time of the creation of Telangana and after respectively on the incidence of child marriage,' Soumya added. Under NFHS-5, the incidence of women who were married before 18 years of age in India stood at 23.3 per cent. Among South Indian states, Andhra Pradesh with 29.3 per cent and Telangana with 23.5 per cent had higher incidences than the national average.Child marriages among Scheduled Caste (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh seem to be higher than in other South Indian states. The incidence was also higher in rural Andhra Pradesh (32.9 per cent), Telangana (27.4 per cent) and Karnataka (24.7 per cent) than in Tamil Nadu (15.2 per cent) and Kerala (8.2 per cent).District-wise data shows that there is no incidence of child marriage in the district of Pathanamthitta in Kerala whereas the highest incidence in South Indian districts was registered in Vikarabad district (39.8 per cent) of Telangana, closely followed by Vijayapura (Bijapur) (39.2 per cent) in Karnataka. The incidence of child marriage is high in the poorest and poorer wealth quintiles across the states and at the national level. These are matters of concern and should be thoroughly investigated to find the root cause of the incidence of child marriage to initiate actionable interventions, the study concludes.