The central government’s proposed decision to increase the minimum age of marriage from the current 18 years to 21 years is being debated in the political circle. media and the general public. Lots of reasons are being given by the central government to explain why they are proposing this law and to counter these reasons, lots of statements are coming from opposition and media outlets. In this blog, we will not be judgemental and make a conclusion about who is right or wrong but we will just look at the reasons from both perspectives and try to evaluate them without passing on any judgment.
Reasons Given In Favour Of Increasing The Age:
The age for getting married was last raised in 1978 when it was set at 18 for women and 21 for men. Since then, it will be the first time the marriageable age will be increased. The reasons to take this decision is based on the following reasons per the government:
The government has been saying that the decision to increase the age of marriage for women is being taken to bring women on par with men in terms of rights. The age of men to get married in India is 21. The Indian constitution believes in equality for every citizen irrespective of gender. The government claims it is a step taken in this direction. This law will help bring down the gender inequality
According to the government, the bill will lower the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). As it believes that increase in age will give more time to woman body to evolve, make them mentally and emotionally stronger, their bodies will have more nutrition and become fitter to carry a child
Another reason the central government has been putting forth is that this decision will increase SRB (Sex Ratio at Birth) as women will be more mature to fight any decision to abort a girl child.
The increase in age will push the population growth down as the women will be giving birth to children at a higher age.
Counter-Arguments Against The Proposed Law :
Just like many other topics, this proposed law has divided opinion. The counterargument against this law touches upon many things, Let us look at these counterarguments:
The first argument that we have been hearing is that this law will not increase gender equality but bring it down.” Why not the current government, bring the age of marriage to 18 for men, instead of increasing women’s age to 21.” is the statement that we get to hear from the opposition.
Another opinion that is emerging is that this law will only change the age of marriage whereas the age to vote and the age when a person can be convicted as per criminal law will remain 18. This means women can go to jail at 18, choose their legislative representatives by voting, but they cannot get married, which is absurd
One concerning point is that many young couples enjoy autonomy under the current law. According to the current system, if the girl is over 18 and the boy is 21, they can get married against their family members’ wishes and social pressure. Since girls are typically younger than boys in a relationship, this law will rob young couples of their liberty and force the young couple to wait until they are mature to be able to marry
Although the act of child marriage prevention is in place, the opposition has highlighted that about 22% of marriages take place before the age of 18 in India. The reason is social norms illiteracy, family pressure, dowry pressure, and negative attitude toward the girl child. As per the counter augment, the solution will not come by increasing the age but by improving the state of the mind of the society, increasing literacy rate, and empowering women by providing more job opportunities.
One powerful example which is given by the opposition is that even developed nations like Canada and the USA(Some states) have a lower age for marriage. Therefore, the problem is not age but the state of the society.
According to the latest statistics, in India, the average age of marriage among women is already 22.5. Overall. And if you combine it with the declining fertility rate, this proposed law seems like a pushed idea. It will only take away the power to get into relationships and live a more independent life among the women from the younger generation.
The law to push the marriageable age to 21 from 18 is very much controversial. The opposition parties have come together to oppose it in both houses of the parliament. On the other hand, the Government seems very much reluctant to take back the proposed law and seems confident to get the approval. If this does become a law, it will certainly affect a major portion of the population, therefore, an intense debate and a rational decision are certainly required.
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