The legal age of marriage for women will be raised from 18 to 21, making it the same as for men, under a recent proposal backed by the Union press. The government sees the proposed legislation as a significant step toward achieving gender equality. When the measure receives the President’s approval, the revision respecting mature age will take effect in two years. Based on the committee’s recommendations, which were led by Jaya Jaitley the government has made this decision. The panel has stated that their suggestions are more focused on gender equality and women’s issues than it is on social control. Nevertheless, there aren’t many limitations on raising the legal age of marriage for women. Socially, women are expected to marry at a very young age. So, the legal age of female marriage in the nineteenth century was ten yrs. The Sharda Act of 1929 was revised to set a minimum age of fourteen for female marriage and eighteen for male marriage. By revising the Sharda Act of 1929, the marriage age for girls was later raised from fifteen to eighteen in 1978. In addition, the legal age of consent for men and women is set at eighteen and twenty-one, respectively, by the Special Marriage Act of 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was established.
Benefits for raising the legal age for women
Numerous women will be able to finish their education to the best of their abilities, improve their employability, decrease child marriage and decrease both maternal mortality and child mortality. The brain health of child mistresses and those getting married after the age of 21 differs significantly. Therefore, raising the retirement age can ensure both financial and mental well-being. According to science, the part of the anterior lobe of the brain that controls decision making develops between 18 and 20 and reaches maturity at the age of 25. Therefore, the ability of the human brain to solve problems and make long term plans doesn’t begin to develop until the age of 25. Therefore, raising the marriage age will involve more than just making decisions but also promotes more emotion and control. According to research, a mother’s education, character, or employment has a real impact on the environment her children grow up. Consequently, empowering women will empower families and children.
Challenges in raising the legal age for marriage
The major causes of child weddings are dowry requirements, poverty, unemployment, instability brought on by an increase in occurrences of sexual assault against minors and dowry demands. The Supreme Court of India has accepted the connubial rape of a young woman in the 2017 case of Independent Thought v. Union of India. However, spouses of adult women are completely free from charges of marital rape. The provisions of the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act come into effect to maintain custody of the kid until he or she achieves adulthood If a court finds that a child was coerced into marriage by parents or guardians, the minor has the right to choose whether to get married or not. As a result, child marriage is acceptable. For the marriage to be dissolved, the smaller party must file a petition with the court. Between the ages of 18 and 20 in West Bengal, 47.2% of women were married. Seventy percent of young weddings (between 18 and 20) take place in disadvantaged populations like SCs and STs. They will break the law as the legal age rises.
What can be done to empower women?
In earlier times, women were thought to be essentially nonexistent. As though all rights, including the fundamental right to vote, belonged only to men. As times changed, women grew more conscious of their authority. There was the beginning of the movement for women’s independence. Women’s emancipation was like a fresh breath of air. It helped them understand their rights and how they should establish themselves in society rather than relying solely on men. It accepted that a person cannot simply benefit from their gender in all circumstances. In 1985, the idea of women’s empowerment was first articulated. Women’s empowerment revolves around rights and a fair society. Raising the status of women through education, awareness-building, literacy campaigns, and training is a part of empowerment. To raise the legal drinking age for women Jaya Jaitley committee has made the following recommendations: – Increase access for females to seminaries and institutes, including their transportation to these institutes from remote places. Sex education should be included at seminaries. Make sure women receive skill and business training. To assure that raising the marriage age will be socially accepted, take over mindfulness juggernauts on a large scale. According to reports, access to school and poverty has led to an upsurge in child marriages throughout the pandemic. Therefore, the govt. should prioritize eradicating poverty, especially in pastoral areas, and implement Law Commission recommendations. The Commission looked at international agreements that call for ending child marriage as well as child marriage legislation from various nations. The Commission recommends raising the age limit for marriage for girls to 18 and 21 years. Boost the labor force participation of women. The fiscal commission will be ensured by providing non-farm occupations for women from low-income families.
The young Indians between the ages of 18 and 21 are allowed to vote, drive, compete for their nation in sports and act in films marketed as being for ‘grown-ups only’. Making the legal marriage age in India, a minimum of 18, irrespective of religion, would therefore be a wise change. It is rather problematic the consent of women is irrelevant under this new bill. Marriage is an institution that unites two people, they are wedded towards one another, support one and if it is forced upon them, it weakens their tie. Only when both the partner’s concurrence is required it would be effective. Government should focus on the Right to Education Act before raising the marriage age for women (RTE). Particularly in light of the Covid epidemic, when the dropout rates for girls have risen to a record high, it should be extended beyond 14 years and should be guaranteed to at least senior secondary schooling.