The proposal to raise the minium age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 was cleared by the union cabinet on December 15, a year after prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the plan is under review. Following the cabinet’s approval , the Government will introduce an amendment to the prohibition of child Marriage act,2006, and consequently bring amendment to the special marriage act and personal laws such as the Hindu marriage act,1955.
- Prime minister modi,during his independence day speech last year, had made a mention of the proposal.
- It based on recommendations submitted to Niti aayog in December 2020 by the centre’s task forces, headed by jaya Jaitly , which was constituted to examine Matters pertaining to age of motherhood, imperative of lowering MMR(Maternal mortality Rate), improvement of nutritional levels and related issues”.
Women Marriage act -Not for population control
- Reasoning behind the recommendation was never one of population control.
- Recent data released by NFHS 5 ( National Family Health survey) have already shown that the total fertility Rate is decreasing and the population is under control.
- The idea behind it (the recommendation) is the “empowerment of women”.
- According to data of NFHS 5, india attained a total fertility rate of 2.0 for the first time,below the replacement level of TFR at 2.1, indicating that the population explosion in the coming years is unlikely.
- The data also revealed that the child marriage has came down marginally from 27 per cent in 2015-16 to 23 per sent in 2019-21.
- The task force, setup in June 2020 By the Ministry of women and child Development,also included Dr V K Paul of Niti Aayog and secretaries of the WCD, Health and education ministry and of the legislative Department , has recommended that a comprehensive Public awareness campaign be calked out to encourage social acceptance of the decision.
- It has also sought acess to schools and universities for girls, including transportation in the case of educational institute s in far-flung areas.
- The committee has further recommend that s*x education be formalised and introduced in the school curriculum.
- Training of women in polytechnic institute,skill and business training and livehood enhancement has also been recommended as mean to ensure that an increase in marriageable age can be implemented.
Exited provisions Women Marriage act
- Section 5(iii) of the Hindu marriage Act,1955 sets 18 year’s as the minium age for the bride and 21 for the groom.
- The special marriage Act,1954 and the prohibition of child Marriage Act,2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minium age of consent for marriage for women and men, respectively.
Historical Women Marriage act
- The United Nations adopted the convention on consent to marriage , minium age for marriage and registration for marriage, which come into force December 1964.
- Specify a minimum age for marriage
- Prohibit legal acceptance of any marriage without the full and free consent of both parties.
India had a Law prescribing the minimum age of marriage,known as the sarda Act,1929 later renamed as the child Marriage Restraint Act,(CMRA) 1929.
- It was the first law crated to prohibit child marriage which extended to the whole of India expect Jammu and kasmir.
- it prohibited the marriage of girls below age of 15 years and boy below the age of 18.
- 1978 the law was amended to raise the minium age of marriage to 18 year’s for girls and 21 for boys.
- This position remains the same even in the new law called the Prohibition of child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006,Which replaced the CMRA.
- ACCORDING to the law, if a marriage had occurred between a boy age between 18-21 years and a girl below the age of 18 year’s. It implied imprisonment up to 15 days along with fine of one thousand along.
statistics of Girls Marriage act
- 35%of females in india are married before the age of 21years. The situation is grave in some states.
- Surprisingly , the situation in west bengal is the worst across all states with the mean marriage age only 20.9 years. and almost 47% of females getting married before the age of 21 years. Even worse Bihar and Rajasthan.
Pros of increasing Marriageable age
- evidence shows that delay in marriage has positive economic,social and health effects for families, women, children and society at large.
- While the risks of poor child health outcomes is lowest for women who have their first births between 27 and 29,the board range for an optimal age of motherhood is 21 to 35 years.
- Improvement of nutrition levels.
- Increasing the marriage age will push the mean marriage age higher and will lead to more females doing graduation. and hence improving the female labour force participation ratio.
Cons of increasing Marriageable age
- it is important that girl are not pushed into marriage early; marriage should not be compulsory for them to gain social and economic status. Yet,an increase in the minimum age of marriage to 21 years will be counterproductive.
- Increasing the age of marriage to 21 years would mean that girls. will have no say in their personal matter until they 21.
- The law has been used by parents against eloping daughters. It has become a tool for parents control and for Punishment of boys or men’s whom girls choose as their husbands.