Hyderabad: In wake of the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha that seeks to raise the minimum legal age of marriage for girls from 18 to 21 years, select Muslim households of Hyderabad are rushing the Nikah (marriage) of their daughters whose ages are below 21.
The brides whose marriages are being preponed are in the age group of 18 to 20 years and nikahs of most of them were scheduled to be held in 2022-23 but owing to the bill, the Nikah are to take place in the coming few months.
“I had fixed my 19-year-old daughter’s marriage in March 2022, but I decided to prepone it in wake of the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, it was low profile ceremony similar to those which were performed during the lockdown norms last year,” Syed Azizuddin a resident of Jahanuma was quoted by the Times of India.
Reacting sharply to the proposed bill the Muslim cleric, Moulana Jafar Pasha who is the Ameer (President) of Amarat-E-Millat-E-Islamia Telangana and Andhra Pradesh said that “The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill is nothing but the intrusion in the Muslim Personal Law, in Islam, a Muslim girl can get married once she attains the age of puberty, the passing of the bill will invite certain issues to the Muslim girls”.
Bill to increase marriage age for women
The Bill on raising the marriageable age of women was introduced in Lok Sabha during the Winter Session and has been sent to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny.
The government’s justification behind increasing the marriageable age of women to 21 years is that it will allow girls to study further.
However, many sections of society including the clerics of Darul-Uloom Deoband, the Khaps of western Uttar Pradesh have expressed their opposition to the move.
History of legal marriage age for women in India
The legal marriage age for women in India was first set to 14 years in 1929. It was defined in Child Marriage Restraint Act. The same act also set the legal marriage age for men to 18 years.
After the independence, the law was amended twice i.e., in 1949 and 1978. Both the amendments have increased the marriage age for women.
In 1949, the age for women was increased to 15 and no changes were made to the marriage age of men. The ages for women and men were increased to 18 and 21 respectively in 1978.