NEW DELHI: Just released census data shows that there are about 6.6 million more women who are “currently married” than men. While part of this might be accounted for by married men who have migrated abroad for work leaving their wives behind, the data also indicates that there are a very large number of women in polygamous marriages.
The data also shows that in 2011, the census year, more than 18 lakh girls under the age of 15 were married.
Of the total 1.2 billion population about 580 million were married at the time of the census. This number does not include those divorced, widowed or separated. Among these 580 million married persons, 293 million were women while 287 million were men.
A state-wise comparison of married women and men shows the migration effect. For instance, Kerala has the highest skew with 1.13 married women for every married man. It is followed by Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where this ratio ranges from 1.04 to 1.07. These are all states with high outflows of migrant workers. On the flip side of this, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi, states known for a high influx of migrant labour, have more married men than women.
Of the 18 lakh under-15 married girls, more than 4.5 lakh had also witnessed child birth. About 3 lakh under-15 mothers had two children at the time of the census. Of the total 7.8 lakh children born to girls below 15 years of age, about 56,000 had already died. Thus, there were a large number of girls who before the tender age of 15 had got married, delivered babies and also seen their child die.
Rajasthan had the highest proportion of girls aged 10-14 married. Of 40 lakh girls of this age in the state, a little over 4% were married. Rajasthan was followed by Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat, all having more than 3% of girls aged 10-14 being married at the time of the census.