In an attempt to bring equality and justice, the current government introduced a bill to increase the marriageable age of women in India to 21 years from the current 18 years, to bring it at par with men. The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 will apply to all the communities in the country and once passed and enacted, it will replace the existing marriage laws.
In many poor and marginalised communities in Inda, child marriage has been prevalent and continues to be, despite the many rules and laws. The legal marriageable age for women was 14 years and was raised to 18 in the 1970s. While the opposition is injecting bringing this law stating it as being done in ‘haste’, it makes the common man wonder why this bill now?
According to Smiriti Irani, the Women and Child Development in the Union Cabinet of India, “We are 75 years late in providing equal rights to men and women to enter into matrimony.” This proposal of raising the minimum marriageable age for women in India was based on the recommendation of a Special Task Force Committee set up by the Ministry of Women and Child Development headed by Jaya Jaitley. The task force’s duty was to evaluate the age of marriage and correlate it to health and social indices.
By raising the minimum marriageable age of women in India would increase the chances of women completing the education, better health outcomes– reduce child pregnancies, minimum postpartum haemorrhage, malnutrition, impaired mental health and reduce incidences of sexually transmitted diseases. It will also give women equal rights and power as the men in the country.
The issue of child marriages that the bill hopes to abolish completely, must be evaluated from all aspects–demographically, socially, and economically. Also, the ground reality may be completely different from what is expected!
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