New Delhi: The legal age of marriage for women in India is expected to increase from 18 years to 21 years, as the government has constituted a high-level committee in the matter which will submit recommendations by 31 July.
In 1978, the Sharda Act was amended to increase from 15 to 18 in 1978. Since 1978, the minimum legal age for marriage in the country was 18 for women and 21 for men. However, the Center has set up a task force, which will re-examine matters related to motherhood and marriage at an early age. This includes the mortality and medical well-being of the mother and child. The task force will be led by Jaya Jaitley, former chairman of Samata Party and will consist of members of VK Paul, Health and Niti Aayog.
This is a 10-member task force
The ten-member task force will have member secretaries of health, women and child development, law and school education. The three independent members will be from Najma Akhtar (New Delhi), Vasudha Kamath (Maharashtra) and Deepti Shah (Gujarat). The Ministry of Women and Child Development said, the Central Government has constituted a task force to examine the age of maternity, the imperative of reducing maternal mortality, improvement in nutrition level and related issues. After which the Ministry of Women and Child Development announced that this body will also work on the possibility of increasing the legal age of marriage from 18 to 21 for women.
Finance Minister announced in the budget
In February, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced during the Budget Speech 2020-2021 that the decision is important and will be seen again in the next six months. Sitharaman had said, in 1978, by amending the then Sharda Act in 1978, the marriage age of women was increased from 15 years to 18 years. As India is moving forward, opportunities are being opened up for women to pursue higher education and careers. There is an imperative to reduce MMR, along with maternal mortality, nutritional levels need to be improved. There is a need to rethink the age of a girl entering maternity. I propose to appoint a task force which will submit its recommendations in six months.
27% of women married before 18 years
According to a study by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), about 27% of women in India get married before the 18th birthday. If this decision is passed then it is expected that a strong law will be made in the country for women to marry at the age of 21 years. Which will prevent the marriage of children at a very young age.
Legal age for marriage in India
Since 1978, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 for women and 21 for men. Child marriage prevention laws have been challenged in Indian courts. Some Muslim organizations have spoken of removing the minimum age demand altogether and leaving it on the personal law board.