New Delhi: About 25 per cent of women aged 18-29 and 15 per cent of men aged 21-29 got married before reaching the minimum legal age of marriage. This information has been provided by the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted from 2019 to 2021. In India, the legal age of marriage for women is 18 and 21 for men. However, the government is planning to make it 21 for both men and women.
The NFHS-5 said about two-fifths of women married before reaching the legal age in West Bengal (42 per cent), Bihar (40 per cent), and Tripura (39 per cent), and about one-third of them tied the knot before reaching the legal age of marriage in Jharkhand (35 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (33 per cent).
The percentage marrying before the legal minimum age is 32 per cent in Assam, 28 per cent in Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, 27 per cent in Telangana, and 25 per cent each in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the NFHS said.
The percentage of women marrying before reaching the legal minimum age of 18 is lowest in Lakshadweep (four per cent); Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh (six per cent each); Himachal Pradesh, Goa, and Nagaland (seven per cent each), and Kerala and Pondicherry (eight per cent each).
Overall, 20-25 percent of men age 21-29 in Bihar (25 per cent), Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh (24 per cent each), Jharkhand (22 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (21 per cent), and West Bengal (20 per cent) marry before the legal minimum age of 21 years.
The lowest proportions of men marrying below the legal age at marriage are in Lakshadweep and Chandigarh (less than one per cent), Kerala (one per cent), Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, and Nagaland (four per cent each), Karnataka and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (five per cent each), Himachal Pradesh and Goa (six per cent each), and Delhi, Punjab, and Maharashtra (nine per cent each).
But the report also said that early marriage has been declining over time.
“Marriage before the legal age of 18 is 23 per cent for women age 20-24, compared with 47 per cent for women age 45-49. Similarly, for men, marriage before the legal age of 21 years has dropped from 27 per cent for men aged 45-49 to 18 per cent for men aged 25-29,” the NFHS survey said.
It was also noted that women having 12 or more years of schooling marry much later than other women. “The median age at first marriage for women aged 25-49 increases from 17.1 years for women with no schooling to 22.8 years for women with 12 or more years of schooling,” the survey stated.
The NFHS-5 survey was conducted in around 6.37 lakh sample households from 707 districts of India from 28 States and 8 UTs, covering 7,24,115 women and 1,01,839 men to provide dis-aggregated estimates up to district level.
Leave a Reply