Raising Legal Age of Marriage for Women- Relevance for UPSC Exam
- GS Paper 1: Salient features of Indian Society– Role of women and women’s organization; Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
Raising Legal Age of Marriage for Women- Context
- Recently, the Union Cabinet took the decision to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years. If implemented, it will bring the age of marriage for both men and women at par.
Legal Age of Marriage for Women- Rationale
- Legal Issue: Laws provide a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevent the abuse of minors.
- Personal Laws: Personal laws of various religions that deal with marriage have their own standards, often reflecting custom.
- For Hindus, The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: It sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom.
- In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid.
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006: prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men, respectively.
Need for Raising Legal Age of Marriage for Women
- For Ensuring gender-neutrality: Different age limit of marriage for male and female goes against achieving a gender-neutral society.
- Early marriage and Nutritional Impacts:
- The early age of marriage and consequent early pregnancies impacts the nutritional levels of mothers and their children, and their overall health and mental wellbeing.
- It also has an impact on Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate. And
- Women Empowerment: Affects the empowerment of women who are cut off from access to education and livelihood after an early marriage.
- Help in eliminating Child Marriage: National Family Health Survey (NFHS) revealed that child marriage has come down marginally from 27% in 2015-16 to 23% in 2019-20 in the country.
Raising Legal Age of Marriage for Women- Jaya Jaitly Committee Recommendation
- It recommended the age of marriage be increased to 21 years, on the basis of feedback they received from young adults from 16 universities across the country.
- Over 15 NGOs were also engaged to reach out to young adults in far-flung areas and marginalized communities.
- The committee also asked the government to look into increasing access to schools and colleges for girls, including their transportation to these institutes from far-flung areas.
- Skill and business training has also been recommended, as has sex education in schools.
- It also recommended that an awareness campaign should be undertaken on a massive scale on the increase in age of marriage, and to encourage social acceptance of the new legislation.