Child brides and grooms in India at their engagement ceremony PIC: Reuters
Child brides and grooms in India at their engagement ceremony PIC: Reuters

An eight-year-old Indian girl has become the youngest ever wife to divorce her husband.

Fatima Mangre, whose hobbies include drawing and colouring in pictures, was granted a divorce from the husband to whom she was betrothed at only four years old.

Her father had a change of heart when her husband came to collect his wife from her home In Uttar Pradesh state. He told the 10-year-old boy's family that he wanted her to stay until she was 18.

Following a row between the two families, Fatima's dad filed for divorce and the marriage was annulled.

The case has been condemned by women's rights groups in India as "a scandal."

Explaining why he went off the idea of marriage for Fatima, her father Anil said: "I finally realised that this practice of marrying off daughters so young was wrong and that she should have a childhood and that it was my duty to provide that."

Fatima Mangre has won a divorce aged only eight
Fatima Mangre has won a divorce aged only eight

Nearly one in five girls in India is married by the time they are 15-years-old, according to UNICEF. Despite the practice being outlawed, it is common in rural areas and is known as Bal Vivaha.

The case attracted the attention of female rights group, the National Commission for Woman, which condemned the union of the children.

Spokeswoman Nirmala Samant said: "This is a scandal, we need more details before taking action. The girl's father must answer why he married her off at four years old and the boy's father must answer why he agreed to such a marriage and then went to demand the girl when she is barely eight years old. This is insensitive, controversial and objectionable."

Anil Mangre blamed social pressure on him to marry off his daughter.

Responding to criticism, he wrote: "I have already admitted my mistake. Social pressures are high in our village. But the marriage has been annulled. I have admitted it was wrong to marry her off so early," he said in a letter.

"I now want to make things right. I want to give my daughter a good childhood. I will do everything to protect her."

According to reports, the father of Fatima's husband went in to hiding following the argument between the two families.