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The Editorial Analysis – Age and Marriage

Age and Marriage- Relevance for UPAC Exam

  • GS Paper 1: Salient features of Indian Society- Role of women and women’s organization; Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  • GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges- Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

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Age and Marriage- Context

  • Recently, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years, the same age as for men.

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Age and Marriage- Key Points

  • Background: In the Budget 2020, Finance Minister announced that the Government would set up a task force to look into the age of a girl entering motherhood with an aim to-
    • Lower maternal mortality rates,
    • Improve nutrition levels as well as
    • Ensure opportunities for women to pursue higher education and careers.
  • Jaya Jaitly Committee: It recommends raising the age of marriage along with initiating a strong campaign to reform patriarchal mindsets, and improve access to education.

Raising Legal Age of Marriage for Women


Age and Marriage- Associated Concerns

  • Poor Implementation of Laws: As per the National Family Health Survey (2019-2021), 23.3% of women aged 20-24 years married before 18.
    • This shows that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, has not been wholly successful in preventing child marriages, especially among the poor.
  • Misuse of the Law: Women’s rights activists found that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 was often misused by the parents to punish their daughters who marry against their wishes or elope to evade forced marriages, domestic abuse, and lack of education facilities.
  • Patriarchal Nature of Society: it is feared that the change in the age limit will increase parents’ authority over young adults instead of increasing the age of marriage for women.


Age and Marriage- Way Forward

  • Prioritizing Women’s Health: Government should take steps to counsel girls on early pregnancies and provide them the network to improve their health.
  • Generating Awareness: 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. Laws cannot be a shortcut in the path to social reform.


Age and Marriage- Conclusion

  • Coercive laws without wide societal support often fail to deliver even when their statement of objects and reasons aims for the larger public good. Laws cannot be a shortcut in the path to social reform.

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