Is The Increase In The Age Of The Marriage Of Girls A Stepping Stone Toward Women’s Empowerment?
Marriage has always been a topic of great general and public interest and
therefore there is a requirement for proper rules and legislation which need to
be brought with the needful changes in society. The old preceding customs and
traditions should be reviewed and new changes are to be made in a particular
period. If the changes aren't made in the fixed and requisite period it will
lead to far-reaching repercussions in the future.
The development is evolutionary and timely in doing a precise modification for
the time requirement. Society's past is great evidence of the oppression the
females have suffered over a period and hence some legislations are a need of
the hour when it comes to the upliftment in the status of women. These
legislations and amendments passed by the government act as a medium tool to
eradicate prior rooted customs and bring in new changes for a prosperous and
The education of girls is something that has been brought into the light and
crystal clear in the past few years which has led women to make it their
priority to do the things which were denied to them from the very beginning.
Women empowerment is upliftment in the status of women is possible through
quality education and awareness. Their own decision to control their life, make
choices on their own, and access opportunities.
Women are not governed by others; they are financially stable and capable of
making their own choices. The very sole purpose of women's empowerment gets
dismantled when the marriage of the girl at a very young age is much emphasized
and women's empowerment takes a back seat under those circumstances. The idea of
bringing women on the equal page and making them self-independent can be brought
up only when things like these prevalent in society are less directed.
There have been various instances where the legal age for the marriage of girls
has been changed and modified. There have been times when girls' marriage age
was ten years before independence and was later increased to fifteen years after
The Child Marriage Restraint Act, of 1929 was formed through the active
participation of the members of The All India Women's Conference, the Women's
Indian Association, The National Council of Women, views of Muslim women to the
Joshi Committee to increase the age of marriage in India. Child Marriage
Restraint Act, named the Sarda Act, was the first law that extended to the whole
part of India and restricted the age of marriage of girls to 14 years and that
of boys to 18 years. Amendments are a necessity in society. Later the Sharda Act
was modified and the age of marriage for women was fixed at 18 and for that of
men was 21 years.
The Child Marriage Restraint Act was later replaced by the Prohibition of Child
Marriage Act, of 2006. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act increased the age
to 21 years for the marriage of females and would cancel and reject any other
law and practice. This was the time when the brides had the choice of declaring
their marriage null. It even punished the priests and the parents who performed
and were a part of such ceremonies.
The mention of it was made by the Prime Minister in a speech on Independence
day. The decision on it would be taken when the committee submits its report and
it was put forward on the recommendations by the NITI Aayog headed by former
Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitly.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman February 2020 made a mention of this in the
budget speech stating that a task force would be there that would look into the
age for women to reduce the mortality rates, improve the nutrition level and
career aspects of the life of a girl which submitted its report in December
2020. The recommendations were submitted by the task force by 31st July 2020 and
it consisted of ten members.
The proposal was passed by the cabinet and it said that the main aim of it is
women's empowerment and not based on population control. It included
pediatricians, secretaries from the Department of Health and family, the
Department of Women and Child Development, the Department of Higher Education
and Instruction, Ministry of Justice and Law. The age of marriage for women
increased from 18 to 21 years on 15 December 2021.
Highlights Of The Decision
The marriage of the girls at a very young age not only destroys the childhood of
a girl but at the first instance is a heap of a burden on the girl. When she is
required to live a healthy and lively childhood, she has to overcome the burdens
and face a lot of adult responsibilities that she is not mature and healthy
enough to handle. The weight of the responsibilities at such a tender age often
leads to mental and physical stress, anxiety, and depression.
Marriage of the girl at such a young age leads to unwanted pregnancy due to
which the girl starts embracing motherhood during childhood. Girls become much
more focused on household chores than making their career their priority and
living life on their terms and conditions where she is financially independent.
Girls will have a hand in the progress and development of the nation.
The girls in this scenario generally become victims of domestic violence. There
is a huge loss of education, health, participation, safety, physical and sexual
violence, and lack of participation in society which all will eventually decline
due to the act. This act by the government will eventually bring gender equality
Challenges Of The Decision
Each coin has two sides; similarly, a government move is criticized by the other
part of society. Some are of the view that it will eventually lead to the
destruction of the norms of society. The data shows that there is already a
diminishing rate of child marriage and the others factors like giving people
access to education and quality education should be the aim. There are even
claims that bad health is not mainly due to child marriage.
Awareness regarding this should be prevalent. People are of the view that any
indulgence of the state in customary rules is not good and should not happen.
Many people believe that the legislation itself is insufficient as it is still
practiced in many places. Many people are of the view that it will increment the
rates of female foeticide rather than solve the actual issue.
The regulation passed by the government is a good move and is evolutionary in
nature. The changes are a need of the hour and a must for a progressing society.
Marriage is a pure institution and has several customs and norms. This step by
the government will give women the opportunity to focus on their careers and
accomplish their goals in life so that they are financially independent. People
can speculate it differently but the move will enable active participation from
women in all sectors.
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