Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence speech said that the Government would raise the age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 and a committee has been formed over the change in martial age, which was criticized by Child Right Activist. They allege that by increasing the marriage age for women from 18 to 21 can cause several problems in future. The Government should root for the real cause of solving the child marriages issue rather than increasing the age for women.
The Child Right activist thinks that increasing the age will lead to an increase in parental resentment against young adults who are willing to marry against the wishes of their parents or absconding. These outgrowths can further lead to the criminalization of sexual activities. Already a Taskforce has been appointed by the Women and Child Development Ministry which has been consulting civil society members regarding this matter.
Despite the 1978 law making child marriage for girls below 18 and boys below 21 illegal ), 26.8% of women between ages 20-24 were married before the age of 18, according to the National Family Health Survey 4 (2015-16).
By implying this age for marriage will help to make a drastic change among women and will empower girls and young women to be independent and strong. The Government also believes that it will improve the Infant mortality rate (IMR) and Maternal Mortality Ration (MMR). But several activists believe that increasing the age will have no impact as the Government is ignoring the root cause for child marriage and crimes. They think that the Government should focus on the origins of child marriage and crime against marriage. Increase in the age will not make a stop on the atrocities on women. A group of 96 civil society organizations were involved in drafting this report.
Some activists say that the Government should focus more on giving employment opportunities for women and help in their education system. There is already a law which prohibits child marriage from the colonial times. Now the main concern is on child widows and infant widows. Our primary focus should be on the prohibition on child marriage act if it is showing any improvements. These activists believe that we all need to work more to improve this child marriage system and changing the marriageable age won’t able to fix the real problem.
Article Written by Dikhya Mohanty
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