Times Of Dhaka : Marriage at a later age than in the past is a reality, but teenage brides are by no means as uncommon as we might think, with 41.3 percent of all girls aged 19 in India having married, according to just-released data from the 2011 census.
Of over 10 million girls of this age at the time of the census, more than 4.1 million were married or already divorced, separated or widowed.
In some states — Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Jharkhand — a majority of 19-year-old girls had already been married. In some others like Tripura (49.6%) and Madhya Pradesh (46.6%) they were only just in a minority.
However, the data does confirm that the age of marriage is getting pushed back. During the 2001 census, about 25% of girls aged 15 to 19 were married. Ten years on, that proportion has shrunk to 20%. In the 20-24 age group, while 77% were married in 2001, it was down to 70% by 2011.
The data also shows a clear rural-urban divide. In rural India, 47.3% of 19-year — old girls had been married, in the urban areas the corresponding figure was 29.2%. In most states, a majority of girls seem to be married by the time they are 20 years old.
Which are the states with fewer married 19-year-old girls? The list includes some northeastern states — Nagaland being the best — and southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as Goa, but it also includes states from the extreme north like J&K, Himachal, Punjab and Uttarakhand. Delhi, at 19.6%, is among the front runners, but as an almost entirely urban entity.
The lists of states with the highest proportion also has some surprises. UP (38%), Odisha (33.3) and Chhattisgarh (37.5%) do better than the national average. Gujarat (38.3%), Maharashtra (39.4%) and Karnataka (39.7%) are not far from the national average, showing that generic notions of backward and advanced states may not apply in this case.