Raise marriage age of women

Raise marriage age of women


  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Amendment Bill 2021, which seeks to raise the age of legal marriage for women from 18 to 21, will apply to all communities in the country and, once enacted, will supersede existing marriage and personal laws.

  • The Bill which proposes amendments to the 2006 law was sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for further discussion. The amendment proposed to define a child states: ‘(a) “child” means a male or female who has not completed twenty-one years of age’.

Why a Bill to raise marriage age?

  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 introduced in Lok Sabha is to prohibit child marriage, and bring gender neutrality, by raising legal marriage age to 21 years, up from women’s 18 years.

    Raise marriage age of women
    Credit: News18
  • Raising the age of marriage is the Task Force Committee’s main recommendation. Other include access to education, safe transport to school/colleges, sex education etc.

What all laws will change?

  • The bill (amends Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006), will supersede all personal laws, the Ministry has proposed amendments in personal laws: Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act 1936, Special Marriage Act 1954, Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Foreign Marriage Act 1969, BARRING Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act 1937 under which the marriage of a minor who’s is attained puberty (assumed at 15 years) is valid.

Why Re-Examine Marriage Age?

  • Gender neutrality, to provide equal rights to men and women to enter into matrimony.
  • Bring down incidence of teenage pregnancies.
  • Lower maternal mortality rate, infant mortality rate.
  • Improve Nutrition levels, mental wellbeing, and sex at birth ration.
  • It might aid women to continue education and livelihood after an early marriage.

Main Opposition to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Amendment Bill 2021

  • The existing women’s legal marriage age (18 years) hasn’t prevented child marriages (Illegal but not void). These continue e.g. among rural farmers.
  • What’s brought a decline in child marriage (marginally down from 27% in 2015-16 to 23% 2019-20 according to National Family Health Survey) is poverty reduction and girls’ increased access to education.

Other Fears around the Bill

  • The bill will render illegal many marriages, criminalise adult women who elope/marry in order to escape forced marriage/domestic violence
  • Marginalize vulnerable sections (SCs and STs) and minorities
  • Make them law breakers
  • May imprison those who aid an adult women’s marriage.
  • It’s being seen as “violative of Articles 25 of the Constitution: freedom of “practice and propagation of religion

Source: IE

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