Age and marriage: On raising the age of marriage for women

News: Recently, the Union Cabinet has passed a proposal raising the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years — the same as men. The government has taken this decision based on the recommendations of the Committee headed by Jaya Jaitly.

Must read: Raising the legal age of marriage for women – Explained, pointwise
What are the recommendations of the Jaya Jaitly committee?
Read hereRecommendations given by the Jaya Jaitly committee
What are the arguments against raising the legal age of marriage for women?

Young women are not yet financially independent: They are reeling under familial and societal pressures. So, young women are unable to exercise their rights and freedoms.

Issues with Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006: 1. Women’s rights activists point out that parents often use this Act to punish their daughters who marry against their wishes or elope to evade forced marriages, domestic abuse, and lack of education facilities. So, the age limit will increase parents’ authority over young adults, 2. Child marriage remains a recurring issue despite being outlawed, So the law is impossible to monitor.

Might create a communal flashpoint: The personal laws such as Hindu and Christian personal law, Muslim personal law has to be amended. This might create a communal flashpoint.

Read morePopulation control measures in India – Explained, pointwise
What needs to be done to increase the legal age for marriage?

Laws cannot be a shortcut in the path to social reform. A good way to achieve the stated objective is to take steps to counsel girls on early pregnancies and provide them with the network to improve their health.

The focus must be on creating social awareness about women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ensuring girls are not forced to drop out of school or college.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

”Age and marriage: On raising the age of marriage for women” published in The Hindu on 20th December 2021.

“Beyond the age barrier” published in Business Standard on 20th December 2021.

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