India: Cabinet clears proposal to raise women's minimum age for marriage from 18 to 21

A central task force had recommended the need to raise the legal age of marriage for women last year.



Agencies file
Agencies file

By Our Reporter

Published: Thu 16 Dec 2021, 11:03 AM

India’s union cabinet passed a proposal to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years, the same as men. According to reports on Thursday, the government will introduce an amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which will also amend the Special Marriage Act and personal laws including the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in his August 2020 Independence Day speech said the government was concerned about “the health of daughters and sisters” and it was necessary that they married at the right age.

A central task force had recommended the need to raise the legal age of marriage for women last year. Jaya Jaitly, who headed the task force, told a newspaper: “I want to make clear that our reasoning behind the recommendation was never one of population control. Recent data released by the National Family Health Survey have shown that the Total Fertility Rate is decreasing and the population is under control. The idea behind the recommendation is the empowerment of women.”

The task force, set up in June 2020, had got feedback from 16 universities and had engaged with 15 NGOs to reach out to the young in rural and marginalised communities, especially in Rajasthan where child marriage is prevalent.

“Across the board, the feedback we received from young adults is that the age of marriage should be 22-23 years,” revealed Jaitly. “There have been objections from certain quarters, but we felt it was more important to be guided by the target group.”


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