Amendment To Increase Legal Marriage Age of Women From 18 to 21 Years Set To Be Applicable To All Religions

by Swarajya Staff - Dec 16, 2021 08:45 PM +05:30 IST
Amendment To Increase Legal Marriage Age of Women From 18 to 21 Years Set To Be Applicable To All Religions
Brides. (Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times)

In a historic and momentous decision, that has potential of transforming the lives of women and girls, and is a step forward in the direction of gender equality, the union cabinet on Wednesday cleared a proposal to bring in uniformity in the marriageable age of men and women

To operationalise the proposal, the union cabinet also approved introduction of "The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021’, in the Parliament, that will amend the existing ‘The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA)’ and pave way for age of marriage equal at 21 years for both males and females.

According to the senior government functionaries, the amendment is in accordance with the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy (particularly the Right to Equality and Right against Exploitation) under Constitution of India guarantees gender equality.

The proposed legislation is a strong measure towards commitment of the Government for the same as it will bring women on equal footing with male, they added.

In the view of the government, the proposed amendment will further opportunities open up for women to pursue higher education and careers.

In the assessment of the government, the legislative intervention along with various welfare initiatives it has undertaken will work in tandem to lower Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and improvements of nutrition levels as well as increase in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB).

The government also hopes that it will also result in women suffcient time to attain psychological maturity before marriage, exercise better reproductive rights and provide enhanced opportunities for developing life skills.

According to the government sources, the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021’ is likely to result in consequential amendments in laws relating to age of marriage i.e. ‘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’. Also the laws namely ‘the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956’; and ‘Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956’ pertain to this context.

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