THE AVERAGE age when women get married in India is 22.1 years, according to a report released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation last month. The average age of marriage for women in Maharashtra is slightly higher at 22.4 years.
Jammu and Kashmir continues to retain its position as a state where the mean age of marriage for women, at 24.7 years, is substantially higher than the national average. Before insurgency broke out in the state, government reports state that the mean age of marriage in J&K stood at 21 years.
While the average age of marriage in rural India is 21.7 years, it is 23.1 years for urban India.
Interestingly, women from the urban areas of Himachal Pradesh seem to get married at a relatively late age of 25.9 years. It is followed by J&K, where the urban areas see women getting married at 25.2 years.
In Maharashtra, women from urban areas get married at 23.6 years as against the national average of 23.1 years.
In rural areas, women from J&K marry late at 24.1 years. It is followed by Delhi at 23.1. In Maharashtra, women in rural areas tend to get married at 21.3 years.
According to the report, at 21.2 years, West Bengal had the lowest average age for marriage of women.
The average age of marriage in India has been progressively improving on the back of a mindset shift and economic development. A comparison with the numbers recorded in the last decade suggests that women now have an increasing say in their marriages.
In 2008, a study on late marriages in Jammu and Kashmir was conducted by late Dr Bashir Ahmad Dabla, the erstwhile head of the sociology and social work department of the University of Kashmir.
In the study, ‘Emergence of late marriage in Kashmir’, Dabla had surveyed a sample size of 2,500 individuals. Dabla’s report had found that while the desirable marriage age of men in Kashmir at that time was 28 years, they were getting married at the age of over 32 years. For women, the desirable age was 26 years but they were getting married at 28.
“The strife that has affected the state has been the main reason for late marriages. The pool of men in the state has shrunk and those available seem to have high dowry demands. This has severely affected the prospects of women finding spouses of their liking, leading to late marriages,” Dabla had said in his report.