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West Bengal has an adolescent (10-19 years) population of 1.73 Crores, out of which 48.11% are girls. The age group 10-14 years forms 9.3% of the total population while 15-19 forms 9.7% of the total population (Source: Detailed Tables-SRS based on Census2011;

WHO has identified this age group as the period of preparation for adulthood during which several key developmental experiences occur like acquiring social and economic independence, development of identity, the acquisition of skills needed to carry out adult relationships and roles and the capacity for abstract reasoning. While adolescence is a time of tremendous growth and potential, it is also a time of considerable risk during which social contexts exert powerful influences.

Child marriage is one such social concern and a violation of children's rights. According to DLHS - 3 (2007-08), West Bengal shows the fifth highest prevalence of child marriage amongst all the states with 54.7% currently married women (age 20-24) being married before 18. The incidence is even higher in rural areas (57.9%). Every second girl in the high prevalence child marriage districts of West Bengal [Murshidabad (61.04%), Birbhum (58.03%), Malda (56.07%) and Purulia (54.03%)] were married off before they reach 18, the legal age for girls to get wedded.

These are also districts with high incidence of trafficking. Significantly, child betrothal and marriage is completely gendered practice - and an overwhelmingly large percentage of girls are married at before reaching adulthood - and only a miniscule percentage of boys are subjected to the same fate. This phenomenon adversely affects the education, health, nutritional status, growth and development of girls. The Selected Educational Statistics (2010-11) published by MoHRD, Government of India shows that for the state of West Bengal, the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) gradually decrease for high school (IX-X) and higher secondary (XI-XII) which means that more children, including girls are leaving schools in the adolescent age group. This leads to a high drop-out rate. The drop-out rate between Class I-X was 63.5% for girls and 64.9% for boys which are relatively higher in comparison to all India average: The ASER 2012 (by Pratham) shows that while only 4.2% girls are out of school in the age group of 11-14 the percentage goes up considerably (14%) for the age group 15-16 years which shows that the girls become more vulnerable in this age group.

While a number of factors contribute towards girls dropping out of school, human rights research shows that the greatest obstacles to girls' education are child marriage, pregnancy and domestic chores, and that ensuring that girls stay in school is one of most effective protective measures against child marriage. In the above context, the Government of West Bengal has decided on creating an enabling environment for elevating the education, health and nutrition status of women and children through an innovative scheme -"Kanyashree Prakalpa".