Elham Asaad Buaras
Child marriages remain rampant in India with nearly 12 million children under the age 10 currently being wed the equivalent to the population of Paris, according to newly released data analysis.
IndiaSpend reported that child marriage is most rampant among Hindus. 84 percent of married children under the age of 10 are Hindu and 11 percent Muslim. In Gujarat, 91.55 percent of the total 4.3 million child marriages took place among the majority community followed by Muslims (7.43 percent).
As many as 7.84 million (65 percent) married children were female; eight in ten illiterate children who were married were also girls.
72 percent of all Hindu girls married before ten were in rural areas, as compared to 58.5 percent Muslim girls, with higher levels of education correlating with later marriage. Women from urban areas, on average, marry more than two years later than their rural counterparts.
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.
As many as 5.4 million (44 percent) married children under ten were illiterate, 80 percent 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. 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.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act states that a girl in India cannot marry before age 18, a boy before 21.
As many as 102 million girls (30 percent of female population) were married before 18 in 2011; the number was 119 million in 2001 (44 percent of female population), a decrease of 14 percentage points over the decade. Among boys, 125 million were married before 21 years of age (42 percent of male population) in 2011; the number was 120 million in 2001 (49 percent of male population), a decrease of 7 percentage points over the decade.