Child marriage has a significant impact on the Indian economy and can lead to
a poverty cycle that lasts generations. Girls and boys who marry as youngsters
are more likely to lack the skills, knowledge, and work opportunities necessary
to bring their families out of poverty and contribute to their country's social
and economic development.
In the 21st century when the legal age of marriage is 18 in India there are
still regions where forms of child marriages are prevalent. This necessitates
the creation of a new, stronger legislation with better execution than the
current one. In this article, we will explore the increase in the age of
marriage for females from 18 to 21 and why it is necessary, as well as
objections of the same.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was submitted in the
Lok Sabha on Tuesday, with the goal of raising the minimum legal age of marriage
for females from 18 to 21 years. With this decision, the government would raise
the marriage age for men and women to the same level.
Smriti Irani, the Minister for Women and Child Development, tabled the Bill amid
a ruckus, with opposition members asking that it be referred to the
Parliamentary Standing Committee. Later, the minister stated that the
administration intended to present. In her introduction to the bill, Smriti
Irani, the minister for women and child development, stated unequivocally that
the bill wants to supersede all existing laws, including "any custom, use, or
practise" controlling the parties in marriage.
All connected laws, including personal laws, will be brought into compliance
with the revisions. The Indian Christian Marriage Act, the Parsi Marriage and
Divorce Act, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, the Special
Marriage Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, and the Foreign Marriage Act are all
examples of these laws.he bill to the standing committee, and it was forwarded
to the panel.
Jaya Jaitly committee and its recommendations
The Ministry of Women and Child Development established a task group in June
2020 to investigate the relationship between the age of marriage and concerns
such as women's nutrition, anaemia prevalence, IMR, MMR, and other social
indicators. Former Samata Party president. The committee was directed by former
Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly and includes NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V
K Paul and secretaries from different ministries.
The committee was to look at raising the marriage age and its consequences for
women's and children's health, as well as ways to increase women's access to
education. The group was also supposed to suggest a deadline for the government
to adopt the policy, as well as the changes that need be made.
Statement Of Object
- Based on feedback from young adults from 16 colleges around the country,
the committee has proposed that the marriage age be raised to 21 years. Over
15 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also have been enlisted to reach
out to young adults in distant areas and marginalised communities. According
to committee members, input was solicited from young people of all faiths,
as well as from both rural and urban regions.
- The committee also asked the government to look into increasing girls'
access to schools and colleges, as well as their transportation to these
institutions from outlying areas. Skills and business training have also
been advocated, as has sex education in schools.
- The committee stated that these deliveries must come first since the law
would not be as effective until they are implemented and women are
- The group also advised that a huge public awareness campaign about the
rising age of marriage be launched, as well as societal acceptance of the
new rule, which they believe would be considerably more successful than
Criticism Related To The Bill
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, substituted the Child
Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, to prevent the solemnization of child
weddings, yet this very harmful practise has not been totally removed from
our culture. As a result, there is a pressing need to address this societal
issue and implement changes. We can't claim progress unless women improve in
all areas of their lives, including physical, mental, and reproductive
health.The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872; the Parsi Marriage and
Divorce Act, 1936; the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937;
the Special Marriage Act, 1954; the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; and the
Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, do not provide for a uniform minimum age of
marriage for parties.
- As part of the fundamental rights, the Constitution protects gender
equality, as well as the prohibition of discrimination based on sex. Women
are sometimes placed in a disadvantaged situation when it comes to higher
education, vocational training, psychological maturity and skill sets, and
so forth. Obtaining job and becoming a member of the labour force in order
to become self-sufficient.
- Lowering maternal and infant mortality rates, as well as improving
nutrition and sex ratios at birth, are also imperatives, since they would
enhance opportunities for responsible parenthood for both father and mother,
making them more capable of taking better care of their children.
- To bring down the incidence of teenage pregnancies, which are not only
harmful for women's overall health but also result in more miscarriages and
- To address women's issues holistically, the Bill proposes to:
the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, to strengthen its application
overriding all other existing laws, including any custom, usage, or practise
governing the parties in relation to child marriage:
- Amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, to strengthen its
application overriding all other existing laws, including any custom, usage,
or practise governing the parties in relation to child marriage.
- Bring women at par with men in terms of marriageable age;
- Prohibit child marriage irrespective of any law, custom, usage or
practice governing the parties;
- declare that provisions of the Act shall have overriding effect over
every other law, custom, usage or practice governing the parties;
- Make consequential amendments to the other laws relating to marriage;
- Make the amendments effective, in relation to marriageable age, two
- From the date the Bill receives in assent of the President, so as to
- Opportunity to one and all in our collective efforts and inclusive
growth, and to make effective other provisions immediately.
Child and women's rights advocates, as well as population and family planning
professionals, have been opposed to raising the marriage age for women, arguing
that such legislation would force a huge proportion of the population into
- Opponents of the idea argue that child marriage are common in India
today, despite the fact that they are illegal. According to the National
Family Health Survey (2019-2021), one-fourth of women aged 20-24 were
married before they turned 18. The number of child marriages has grown
worldwide after the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of enacting a higher marriage
age, it is suggested that the root cause of child marriage be addressed in
order to create a societal value shift.
- Some girls from particularly strict, regressive, and patriarchal homes
manage to flee their families' clutches by marrying a man of their choice
after reaching 18. Such girls would have to wait three extra years as a
result of the proposed law reform; this time might be utilised by families
and the wider society to frighten and control such females.
- According to 2019 official data, the average age for women to marry is
22.1 years. This number has progressively increased over time, indicating
that the shift is voluntary. The shift has mostly occurred as women's
educational levels have improved. As a result, improving education for
girls, conducting education awareness programmes in communities with low
female education rates, and sensitising young students of both genders about
the importance of individual financial stability and the dangers of teen
pregnancy may be the solution to the problems that the proposed amendment
seeks to address.
- Girls belonging to socio-economically weak families are forced into
child marriages and providing them financial support, especially for
pursuing education, will automatically raise the age of marriage among
The Sarda Act, or Child Marriage Restraint, was adopted in 1929 as the first
regulation limiting the minimum age of marriage, but it was never implemented to
preserve the views of diverse communities. However, after independence, an
amendment to the Act was passed in 1978, raising the marriage age to 18 for
women and 21 for males. This regulation has remained in effect till now, despite
the fact that it is ineffective due to the prevalence of underage marriages in
Child marriage is a violation of a woman's human rights, but early marriages
should also be considered a public health concern since they have a negative
influence on a woman's physical and mental health. It is critical to stop the
trend of early weddings in families since, even in metropolitan regions, women
are married off as soon as they turn 18, stifling their desire to finish their
education and develop a job. As India advances, there is a need for parity in
the legal age of marriage for men and women, which would be another step toward
equality. The central government's decision is admirable, but the legislation
has to be enforced more strictly.
Written By: Arya Srijan Verma,
BA.LLB 3rd year,New Law College,Bharati Vidyapeeth,Pune