“Girls, not Brides”: J&K ranks first for “Lowest Child Marriages” in India

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Srinagar: A new survey has found that Jammu and Kashmir have the lowest rates of child marriage in India.

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) found that only 6 percent of women were married before the legal age of 18.

Other states that reported fewer child marriages include Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Nagaland (7 percent each), and Kerala and Puducherry (8 percent each).

Jharkhand has reported the highest number of female child marriages at 35%. Andhra Pradesh has 33% Assam 32%, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu 28%, Telangana 27% and Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan 25% each.

Around 25 percent of women aged 18 to 29 in India were married before the legal marriage age of 18.

The legal marriage age for women is 18 and 21 for men in the country. However, the government plans to bring it to 21 for both men and women.

Currently, the median age at marriage for women aged 20–49 in India is 19.2 years and 24.9 years for men aged 25–49.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the median age at marriage for women is 23.6 years.

Sociologist Irshad Bhat said improving financial stability, literacy and empowerment for women in Jammu and Kashmir has led to a decline in child marriages.

“The harmful practice of child marriage is on the decline around the world. Factors at the macro level, including higher social spending, economic growth and women’s empowerment, tend to be associated with lower rates of child marriage,” he said.

Bhat said tough laws also helped end child marriage in the valley.

“Not so long ago, child marriage was widespread in Kashmiri. Well, the state systems such as Ladli Beti',Hausla’ and many others empower women. Law enforcement agencies are also strictly enforcing the Union Territory’s Child Marriage Prohibition Act of 2006,” he said.

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