India Has 12 Million Married Children Under Age Ten

Representational image. Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave

Representational image. Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave

Nearly 12 million Indian children were married before the age of 10 years, 84% of them Hindu and 11% Muslim, reveals IndiaSpend analysis of recently released census data.

To put it in context, this number is equivalent to Jammu & Kashmir’s population.

As many as 7.84 million (65%) married children were female, reinforcing the fact that girls are significantly more disadvantaged; eight in ten illiterate children who were married were also girls.

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

The data further reveal that 72% of all Hindu girls married before ten were in rural areas, as compared to 58.5% Muslim girls, with higher levels of education correlating with later marriage.

Jain women marry latest (at a median age of 20.8 years), followed by Christian women (20.6 years) and Sikh women (19.9 years). Hindu and Muslim women have the lowest median age at first marriage (16.7 years), IndiaSpend reported earlier based on a seven-state report from Nirantar, a Delhi-based advocacy group.

Women from urban areas, on average, marry more than two years later than their rural counterparts, IndiaSpend reported earlier.

The report also noted that the level of teenage pregnancy and motherhood is nine times higher among women with no education than among women with 12 or more years of education.

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

80% of illiterate children married before ten years of age are girls

As many as 5.4 million (44%) married children under ten were illiterate, 80% of them female, indicating how lower levels of education correlate with early marriage.

As many as 1,403 females have never attended any educational institution for every 1,000 males who have not, IndiaSpend reported earlier.

In developing countries, girls with less access to quality education are more likely to marry early, argued Quentin Wodon, an advisor with the World Bank’s education department.

Better and safer job opportunities for girls may also reduce child marriage, as might better access to basic infrastructure (water, electricity), which frees up time spent on domestic chores for schooling, wrote Wodon.

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

30% girls, 42% boys married before legal ages

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act states that a girl in India cannot marry before age 18, a boy before 21.

A Muslim girl can marry when she attains puberty or completes 15 years of age, according to Muslim Personal Law, the Gujarat High Court and Delhi High Court noted in different judgments.

As many as 102 million girls (30% of female population) were married before 18 in 2011; the number was 119 million in 2001 (44% of female population), a decrease of 14 percentage points over the decade.

Among boys, 125 million were married before 21 years of age (42% of male population) in 2011; the number was 120 million in 2001 (49% of male population), a decrease of 7 percentage points over the decade.

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

Source: Census of India/IndiaSpend

Devanik Saha is an independent journalist based in Delhi.

This article originally appeared on IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit. Read the original article.

  • pgb

    When you write statistics, be careful about what you are comparing. It is better to give what percentage of Indian Hindus and what percentage of Indian Muslims got married under 10. I think the proportion will be more or less same. You are misleading the people, if you take the percentage of the total number of children under 10 being married and then take how many of them are hindus and how many are muslims. There are not equal number of muslims and hindus in India.

  • Shafqat Ali Khan

    In India Muslims were always questioned for rate of population growth (which is actually less compared to hindus), multiple wives (which is less than hindus 5.7% vs 5.8% and far lower than Jains and Buddhist). Its has also been popularised that #Muslims marry their girls as lower age. In the background of this, all these statistics are important to cut through the years of propaganda.

    In this statistics also even if your convert this in percentage then also Muslims are about 2/3 of hindus.

  • David Johnson

    AND ALL OF THEIR PARENTS BELIEVE THAT THIS IS FOR THE BEST