16 March 2023: Minimum Age of Marriage for Women will be raised to 21 years

Context- The government informed the parliament that the minimum age of marriage for women will be raised to 21 years, two years after the passage of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Amendment Bill 2021 so this gap provides ample time for citizens to prepare for this momentous reform.

Data- As per the National Family Health Survey, around 23 per cent of women in the age group 20 to 24 were married before they turned 18. About 6 per cent of women in the age group 15 to 19 were pregnant during their teenage.

About the Bill-

  • This Bill has a provision to make consequential amendments relating to the age of marriage in 
    1. Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872
    2. The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act 1936
    3. The Muslim Personal Law Application Act 1937
    4. The Special Marriage Act 1954
    5. The Hindu Marriage Act 1955
    6. The Foreign Marriage Act of 1969
  • Bill seeks to increase the marriage age of women from existing 18 to 21 years by amending the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment)Act 2006.
  • To prohibit the child marriage 

Need of the Bill-

  1. Existing laws do not secure gender equality in the age of marriage among men and women.
  2. Development of women in a holistic manner including their physical, mental and reproductive health.
  3. Reducing the level of discrimination against women helps in achieving Sustainable Development Goals and is in line with the principles enunciated under the “Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women”.

Merits – 

  1. Early marriages may lead to the cause of mental health issues among girls.
  2. It gives financial empowerment to girls, they need not depend on their husbands for financial help.
  3. It can help the nation to achieve gender equality.
  4. Teenage pregnancy increases the risk of health among mothers so a rise in the age of marriage may lead to a reduction in maternal mortality.

Demerits –

  1. The implementation of the law is difficult, as it needs to awaken the consciousness of the masses.
  2. Many poor people think that girls are a burden for families so they can let their marriage as early as possible.

Way forward-

This initiative will lead to a reduction in gender discrimination and progress towards gender neutrality but the implementation of this law in a diverse country like India is not an easy task so we need the better cooperation of Non- Governmental Organizations, civil society and the different levels of governments for creating the awareness among masses.