Cabinet clears proposal to raise marriage-age for women to 21
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday passed a proposal to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 years to 21, reports said. The government is now looking at changes to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, Special Marriage Act, and the Hindu Marriage Act, in order to implement the plan. Here are more details on this.
Why does it matter?
- Government says the proposal is aimed at empowering women and improving women's health in general.
- Notably, the legal marriage age for men is already 21 years.
- The plan was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech of 2020.
- But rights groups highlight that social acceptance of a higher marriage age for women is equally, if not more, important.
Government's next set of steps
Now to bring the plan into action, the government will introduce an amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. Thereafter, changes will be made to the Special Marriage Act and personal laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, The Indian Express reported citing sources. The Cabinet clearance is based on recommendations from the Centre's task force on the issue.
Panel focused on issues like motherhood, nutrition
The task force was formed to examine issues such as age of motherhood, Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), and nutritional levels in women, among others. "The idea behind it (the recommendation) is the empowerment of women," Jaya Jaitly, who heads the task force, told The Indian Express. She said they consulted over a dozen universities and non-governmental bodies to arrive at the recommendations.
Youths believe marriage age should be 22-23 years
"Across the board, the feedback we received from young adults is that the age of marriage should be 22-23 years. There have been objections from certain quarters, but we felt it was more important to be guided by the target group," Jaitly further said.
Task force was set up last June
The task force was set up in June 2020 and filed its report in December the same year. It also included Dr. VK Paul of NITI Aayog and the Secretaries of the Women and Child Development, Health, and Education Ministries, and the Legislative Department. The committee has also recommended a comprehensive public awareness campaign to promote wider social acceptance of the government decision.