Nearly 12 million Indian children were married before the age of 10 years–84% of them Hindu and 11% Muslim, IndiaSpend analysis of recently released census data reveals.
According to the report, the number is equivalent to Jammu & Kashmir’s population.
As many of 7.84 million (65%) married children were female, reinforcing the fact that girls are significantly more disadvantaged; eight in 10 illiterate children who were married were also girls, the report added.
The data further reveal that 72% of all Hindu girls married before 10 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.
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.
As many as 5.4 million (44%) married children under 10 were illiterate–80% of them female–indicating how lower levels of education correlate with early marriage.