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Increase women’s marriage age to 21 for health benefits — Modi govt task force recommends

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Representational image of marriage | Photo: Pixabay
Representational picture | Photo: Pixabay

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New Delhi: A process power constituted final yr by the Narendra Modi authorities to look at its proposal of accelerating the age of marriage for ladies has submitted its report, recommending a rise within the age from 18 to 21, ThePrint has learnt.

According to extremely positioned sources within the authorities, the duty power, led by former Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitly and NITI Aayog Member (Health) V.Ok. Paul, submitted its report back to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) final month.

“The report recommends an increase in the age from 18 to 21, but in a phased manner,” mentioned a senior authorities official on the situation of anonymity. “That means states should be given enough space and time to do the groundwork for such a legislation, since it cannot be done overnight.”

On Independence Day final yr, PM Modi had said the federal government may re-look on the age of marriage for ladies, in its bid to struggle malnutrition. “We have formed a committee to ensure that daughters are no longer suffering from malnutrition and they are married off at the right age. As soon as the report is submitted, appropriate decisions will be taken about the age of marriage of daughters,” he had mentioned.

The process power, constituted in June final yr, consisted of secretaries of the well being and household welfare, girls & little one growth (WCD), greater schooling, college schooling & literacy ministries, and the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice. Other members included Najma Akhtar, Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia; Vasudha Kamath, former vice-chancellor of SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai; and Gujarat-based gynaecologist Dr Dipti Shah.

ThePrint contacted Jaitly and Paul, the co-heads of the duty power, in addition to all of the members for his or her feedback. While Jaitly simply mentioned it was the federal government’s prerogative to first launch the report, Paul didn’t reply to calls or textual content messages. The different members additionally didn’t reply to calls, textual content messages and emails.

Also learn: Modi govt’s plan to raise legal age of marriage for women can bring enormous gains, says SBI

First supply needs to be at 21 

According to sources, the duty power has mentioned the age of a girl on the time of her first childbirth needs to be 21 years. The report says proof reveals that delay in marriage has constructive financial, social and well being results for households, girls, kids and the society at massive.

Further, the report argues that research — primarily based on proof from 50-plus low and center earnings nations to seek out the affiliation of maternal age with toddler mortality, little one anthropometric failure, diarrhoea and anaemia for first births — present that the danger declines after age 21.

While the danger of poor little one well being outcomes is the bottom for ladies who’ve their first births between 27 and 29, the broad vary for an optimum age of motherhood is 21 to 35 years.

This is the important thing advice of the report, for the reason that foremost mandate of the duty power was to look at the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood with well being, medical well-being and dietary standing of mom and the kid throughout being pregnant, start and thereafter.

No have to tinker with age of consent 

A scorching matter of debate surrounding marriage age is whether or not it might result in confusion concerning the age of consent, which is 18. Sources informed ThePrint that the duty power has not advisable that the age of consent needs to be elevated.

“The task force has stated that the focus should be on sex counselling and sex education, instead of adopting a judgmental view of sex,” mentioned an official aware of the report.

On voiding marriages of under-18 girls by default, the duty power has mentioned marriages beneath the age of 21 shouldn’t be made void instantly. “It cannot be expected that a legislation is brought in, and immediately, social attitudes change… States need to be given time to work on it,” the primary official quoted above mentioned.

As of now, little one marriages are solely voidable, and never void by default — such unions aren’t thought-about void except the companions concerned problem it. The Union authorities is engaged on a proposal to make all little one marriages void.

Further, the duty power has advisable that the Karnataka mannequin needs to be studied carefully earlier than making little one marriages void. In 2017, the Karnataka authorities handed the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Karnataka Amendment) Act, 2016, declaring all marriages between minors void “ab initio” (ranging from the start).

Also learn: Why proposal to review marriage age for women has split Modi govt

Previous debates 

In 2019, ThePrint had reported that the WCD ministry was exploring a proposal to standardise the minimal age for marriage at 18 years for each women and men beneath the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006.

Similarly, the Law Commission, in 2008, had advisable a uniform age of marriage for girls and boys at 18 years, and never 21.

In 2018, the National Human Rights Commission had additionally advisable that there needs to be a uniform age of marriage for girls and boys.

The logic behind bringing down the age of marriage for males from 21 to 18 has been that legally, the age of maturity is 18, and a person is even allowed to vote at that age. Reducing the age of marriage from 21 to 18 for males, it has been believed, serves the aim of standardising the age of marriage for women and men.

In truth, a sub-committee arrange by the federal government earlier than this process power had mentioned the bulk view was to not improve the age of marriage, and for there to be no amendments made to the PCM Act with out inspecting their sociological influence on the woman little one, despite the fact that there was no authorized obstacle to rising the age.

The sub-committee, headed by the secretary of the legislative division, had mentioned a research of the social and cultural influence of such a transfer have to be carried out.

However, whereas the government-appointed process power has regarded into these questions, it has advisable a rise as an alternative of a discount, given the numerous well being advantages of copy after the age of 21, sources mentioned.

Also learn: How 2 UP girls got their weddings called off as child marriage bids see rise during pandemic


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