Centre may decide against raising marriage age for women

Hyderabad: The Union Cabinet earlier this week considered raising the marriage age of women from 18 to 21. But as some parties disagreed with the decision; calling it a violation of a woman’s personal liberty the Parliamentary bill is being reconsidered.

According to NDTV, sources from the government remark that the Centre is unwilling to rush the decision as it has drawn flack from the opposition as well as activists and the general public. PM Narendra Modi’s cabinet approved the “Prohibition of Child Mariage Bill, 2021” to increase the age of marriage for women, to equal that of men: 21 years.

The parties that are against the bill are the Congress Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), the Samajwadi Party and All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).

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The Congress Party alleged that the intention of the bill is “highly suspect and motivated,” and has called for it to be referred to a standing committee for review. The CPM says the government should pay more attention to the education and nutrition of girls.

The senior leader of CPM, Sitaram Yechury said “A woman at the age of 18 is legally an adult. For the purpose of marriage, treating her as a juvenile is self-contradictory and the proposal violates an adult’s right to make personal choices. This proposal deprives a woman of deciding the course of her life.”

“This government is constantly concerned about the health of daughters and sisters. To save the daughters from malnutrition, it is necessary that they’re married at the right age,” the Prime Minister had said in his Independence Day speech last year.

The legal marriage age for women in India was first set to 14 years in 1929. It was defined as such in the Child Marriage Restraint Act. The same act also set the legal marriage age for men to 18 years. The ages for women and men were increased to 18 and 21 in 1978.

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