AHMEDABAD: The Hindu Marriage Act clearly states that the bridegroom should have completed the age of 21 years and the bride 18 years at the time of the marriage. But going by the 2011 census figures, 1.06 lakh girls and 70,312 boys who have been married are below 15 years of age.

The figures reveal that nearly one fourth of the married girls in the state are below 18 years and have at least two kids.

According to the report ‘2011 Census: Number of women and ever married women by present age, parity and total children’, in the age group of less than 15 years, there were 81.63 lakh girls of which 1.06 lakh have been married. The report says in this age group, there are 27,247 girls who have delivered two children while another 8,665 have got one child.

The report states that in the age group of 15-19 years, there are 3,97,211 girls who are married, while another 2,30,491 boys are also married in this age group.

Of these 3,97,211, there are 30,331 girls who have more than three children. Interestingly, in the age group of 10-14 years, there are 811 girls who have already taken divorce and another 1,596 have also separated from their husbands. The report further states that another 4,183 girls have been widowed at the age of 14 years.

Of the 1.06 lakh girls who have married below 15 years, there are 57,432 girls are in rural areas.

Manibhai Vankar, sarpanch of Gaja Pagina in Kheda, said in the rural area generally such marriages take place in barter system. “If the elder brother is getting married, the family would insist that the minor girl is also married in the other family,” he says. This tradition is rampant and many a times it leads to child marriage. But in his village, he says, no such marriage has taken place.

Another sarpanch, of Kolwan Diva Pagi, says that at present there are no minor in the village who is married but in the past there were a couple of instances where minors were married. “These marriages are generally from the lower income group families and even the panchayats do not stop them as these families marry off at least two to three daughters or sons at time to cut down on expenses,” he says.