Aaquib Chhipa, Ahmedabad: Even as the Centre works to revise the minimum age for marriage for a woman, data has revealed that more young men than women have tied the knot before the legal age in Gujarat.
According to the (National Family Health Survey) NFHS -5 data, 27.7% of men aged between 25 to 29 got married before the age of 21. However, the percentage of young women aged between 20 to 24 years who got married before reaching 18 years was 21.8% in the state.
Rural areas lead in underage marriage
The data shows that the percentage of underage men and women getting married is high in rural areas. 33.9% of men aged between 25 to 29 in rural areas of Gujarat marry below the age of 21. For women, 26.9% of them between 20 to 24 years got married before attaining 18 years.
In urban areas, 18.7% of men and 14.2% of women married before attaining the legal marriageable age.
Decline in marriage of underage women
The decline in women getting married below 18 years is 3.1% against men where the decline is just 0.7%. According to NFHS – 4 data for the year 2015-16, 24.9% of women got married below 18 which has now come down to 21.8%.
28.8% of men got married before 21 years in 2015 -16 which has now marginally come down to 27.7% as per the latest NFHS -5 data of 2019 – 20.
Apart from Gujarat, several other states and union territories like Meghalaya, Mizoram, Jammu & Kashmir, Leh- Ladakh, and Goa also have a higher percentage of young men getting married below 21 years than women.
Northeastern states saw a high % surge in marriage before the legal age
A comparison between NFHS -4 (2015 -16) and NFHS – 5 (2019-20) data shows that most northeastern states – Assam, Manipur, Tripura, and West Bengal have seen a percentage increase in the number of young women & men getting married before the legal age of 18 and 21.
With a literacy rate of over 98%, just 6.3 % of young women and 1.4% of men in Kerala got married before the legal age.
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