In a series of revelations about ‘marriageable age’ among girls in the country, the freshly released data from 2011 census has found out around 41.3 per cent of all girls aged 19 are married, Times of India reports.
According to the report, of over 10 million 19-year-old girls at the time of the census, more than 4.1 million were married, or already divorced, separated or widowed.
The trend is dominating in the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Rajasthan, where teenage brides are in majority. In states like Tripura (49.6%) and Madhya Pradesh (46.6%), 19-year-old brides are in minority.
Compared to the previous census of 2001, the new data also affirms that the age of marriage is getting pushed back. In 2001 census, about 25 per cent of girls aged 15 to 19 were married. However, the same figure has shrunk to 20 per cent in 2011 census.
It also underlies a naked rural-urban divide. An apparent difference between the marital status of teenage girls in urban and rural areas helps to understand the case. For example, 47.3 per cent of 19-year girls are married in rural areas as compare to the figure of 29.2 per cent in urban areas, the report says.
In most states, a majority of girls seem to be married by the time they are 20 years old, the report further adds.
Which are the states that fare better with respect to this data?
With Nagaland being the best, the list criss-crosses from south to north including Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa to Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand. Not surprisingly, Delhi, with a 19.6 per cent figure, is among the front runners. But then again, the capital is almost entirely an urban entity.
The census data also punctures the notions of ‘backward’ and ‘advanced’ states having any correlation with the marriageable age of girls. Data shows little difference between the comparatively advanced and backward states.
While UP (38%), Odisha (33.3) and Chhattisgarh (37.5%) do better than the national average, well-developed states like Gujarat (38.3%), Maharashtra (39.4%) and Karnataka (39.7%) are not far from the national average.