It’s time to increase age limit of girl's marriage: An Analytical Study
Must revise laws on woman’s marriage age,
So, that they come out from societies illiberal cage.
This article is an attempt to study the difficulties faced by girls as engraved in the societies own rules and perceptions. India is Plagued with many serious gender issues being a land of “missing women”. Age is the time of a life at which some particular qualification, power or capacity arises, or another definition is that it is one of the stages of life. Experts suggest that the minimum age of girls to get measured should be increased to 21 as 18 years is not the perfect time for a girl to marry and bear children. The research also draws about the background of age limit and talk about the grounds that why the age limit of marriage for girls should be increased. Available data showed that with no education, 44.7% of women were married before 18 years, which dropped to 39.7% with primary education, 23.2% with secondary education and 2.9% with higher education. However, throughout the course of research various other statistical data have been given through which we can recognize that revising the marriage age is like the key of progress for Indian girls. In this article, the researchers would like to show the girls matter as a concern, who are messed in the trap of marriage. And why a new law or amendment is required and final note on suggestion and conclusion.
Key words: Minimum age, marriage, increase, laws, problems.
We all are people of our Nation and all are equal in Nations eye. But a girl will never be accorded a status equal to that of boy it is observed that many laws are introduced as a protection for women but not effective. A legal amendment will not be enough. An environment should be created for female children to realize their dreams. A legal education awareness among masses and sell efforts. Only these can bring change in our country. Marriage in our country is regarded as an institution where all religious beliefs, customs are Fulfilled and performed respectively. But the problem arises whether that marriage is safe or not for either spouse, especially for a girl. Currently the minimum age of marriage is 18 year for women and 21 for men. In this article, we will discuss that this Minimum age of marriage that is 18 must be increased and the law should be made to revise this age. Further, we will discuss the reasons behind why it should be changed.
Background of Hindu Marriages.
There is no shortage of laws in this country. The only requirement is to implement them. Lo prescribes a minimum age to essentially out law child marriages and prevent abuse of minors after by putting pressure on politicians on legislature and organized Women’s group in India. An act. Was passed prominently known as Sharda Act 1929, where it sets 14 and 18 years of minimum age of marriage for women and men respectively but this act remains ineffective. Despite many laws are provided in our Constitution, but still inequality exists in our country. There are certain practices followed by Indians against female child which are discriminatory in nature. The way Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was reformed Hindu Law of marriage. Similarly, child marriage is made punishable under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and in child Marriage Restraint Act 1929. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is enacted for laws related to Hindu marriages, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. The child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, probably no special Marriage Act, 1954. Other people have and endeavored to idealize the institution of marriage as Hindus have done. In 1978, Sharda Act amended since then the minimum legal age of marriage has been 18 and 21 for women and men respectively. In fact, in 2006, a specific act is passed by the legislature i.e. is the prohibition of Child Marriage Act,2006 where not only parties to contract are punished, but also others will be punished, Whether it includes priests or parents or any other person who was the part of that marriage. Now the legal age for marriage in India is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. Any marriage of person younger than this is banned under the Child Marriage Prevention Act 1929.
There is requirement of mother for child, Doctor for patient, law for society. Similarly, there is need of amendment for our developing nation. Our Democratic country is a country where all citizens are treated equally and government is working for the people which is made by people itself. Our country’s constitution talk’s about right to equality from Article 14 to 18. Where there is equality in status and opportunity has been secured to all the citizens of India. Keep this right in their mind our union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had during budget speech 2020- 2021 announced. “Women’s Age of marriage was increased from 15 years to 18 years in 1978 by amending erstwhile Sharda Act of, 1929. As India progresses further opportunities open up for women to pursue higher education and careers”. She also proposed to Task Force to recommend raising woman’s minimum age of marriage from 18. Thereafter, our Prime Minister on 74th Independence Day ensured after he has been receiving letters from women across the country as they were asking about committee report. Moreover, the government’s commitment on it.
Modi said “I want to be assure them, the government will soon take its decision after the submission of the report”. In addition to it, we will also put focus on his words while addressing the nation on India’s 74th Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort covering the issues related to women. He said “we have set up a committee to reconsider the minimum age for marriage of our daughters. We will take appropriate decisions after the committee submit its report”. During his speech he has covered many aspects regarding women’s equal Employment opportunities. Their crucial role in Air Force in Navy, in NCC and other fields. Moreover, he said that whenever women gets chance they made not only themselves as independent or empowered Women but also strengthen our country and be a matter of pride. He had not only talks about woman’s equality rights, opportunities, status. In fact he brought out the matter of concern i.e. the age limit of woman for marriage.
Well our government has taken initiative on this issue but the question arises why they chose this subject matter? Is it really a very problematic issue, is it harmful thing? The answer is YES, it is there are abundance of the reasons behind it and it is badly required to amend this age limit law. After the amendment in 2006 the age limit for boy is 21 year and for girl is 18 years old. Since 2006 it is same. As we all know that society is dynamic in nature Law is not stable in nature both are like the track of train. For the development there is necessity to change them. See, marriage discuss about the union of two sexes through a contract and this goes only successful through love, devotion, understanding and adjustment. In Ancient times the women are ready to sacrifice their self respect, their dreams, their dignity but now a days it is vice-versa. But this vice-versa only happens when the woman is independent and well educated. We agree that everyone has right to live according to their will there is nothing wrong in this but what is not right is pressuring anyone neither boy nor girl. Most of the parents are waiting that when the girl became 18 years old and when they would start the preparations for her marriage or can say that;
A girl of 18 year of age, is a symbol that she is entered in marriage stage.
This thinking is actually destroying the career of many girls. Underage or earlier marriage of a girl increases vulnerability and reflects the low status of woman in the society as compared to man. Mentality is already set in their minds that the gap between both must be more. Our another question is, we always talk about the physical preparedness of a girl, but what about the mental preparedness? This point should also be considered. Now we’ll discuss in brief about that abundant reasons, which is pushing to woman to address minimum age of marriage.
The foremost reason to revise age of girl is that there is lack the recourse to proper education. Only education is the way through which she can progress and it will be beneficial for women as well as society as a whole. The age is 18 year for girl's marriage, which means after completing the age of 18 girls are not allowed to attend their college is not encouraged to complete their education because women have societal pressure to get married early and have children and thus she only have studied till 12th. So ten years after the right to Education Act came into being nearly 40% of adolescent girls in the age group of 15 to 18 years are not attending school, while 30% of girls from poorest families have never set foot in classroom according to status report. So, increase in age from 18 to 21 at least same as men should be done and it will improve the level of education among woman because only man’s education is not enough for development of our country.
We all had here that only a good health can only give us good wealth. A self analyzation can tell us that at the age of 18 a girl is not so much mature, not physically strong, not prepared to deal with these pregnancy complications and cope up with societies’ matureness. The health argument behind raising the age of Marriage among women is that child bearing at lower ages leads to complications, thereby increasing infant and maternal mortality. Child marriages and other social level where the girl consequences that leads to early age pregnancy which puts the life of mother to risk. A survey clearly states that in the year 2015-2016 that 26.8% of girls married before completing the age of 18. Moreover, the current IMR for India in 2021 is 28.7%. However, there is 3.6% decline from 2020 but still decision on increasing age of girls marriage is required which not only decrease infant mortality rate, but also it helps in erasing the health problems and complications faced by victim and can go forward step by step with men. Thus, health plays a very vital role and this step of government directly affects on health.
Maturity is a stage when a human being is ready to cope up from the upcoming challenges in their life. We don’t think that we guys get mature and good in extreme decision in early age that is 18. Everyone has taught us from the beginning that girls are homemaker and not money earner and boys are always superior from girls. There is no need to send out girls. They look good at home only and etc. etc. But the Question is how girls be ready or confront the problems until Bring out from home. So to meet all the challenges a girl have to study, interact with new people, have to learn from new experiences and many more things are required for development of her maturity level and when they face challenges they get experiences when they get experiences and then she learn something from her experiences though they get more and more matured day by day. We feel that at the age of 18 in general the majority level is not attained completely. That’s why girls are immature. So by increasing the age it will lead to maturity to some extent until age 21 and woman to come extend thus, she will be able to make strong decisions for themselves.
4. ECONOMICALLY STRONG AND INDEENDENT WOMAN.
Early marriage of a girl puts a major impact on education because after marriage study is not taken as much as serious as it is taken before her marriage. We all are in knowledge that increase in level of education will lead to more opportunities for women to earn her living, can fulfil her own needs without being dependent on other. If she is earning then she would actually feel free from the tag of #DEPENDENTWOMAN. But this reason of early marriage arises and thus she deprives from proper education and from job one more point, we will add that by acquiring proper knowledge, a well reputed job then she is not only being independent but also can teach her children’s. Moreover, it will help in reducing poverty and thus how our society, societies people our nation came out from the cycle of poverty.
Poverty arises when there is no source of income, no livelihood, when person has no way of earning money to fulfill his/her basic necessities. When that person is in doubt that. Whether he has enough money to eat food at least once in a single day. So basically, poverty is a relationship between the essential needs of people to survive and their ability to satisfy them. Those who are educated, they have opportunity or chance to do something for their better lives, but those who are not educated have no way, no possibility, no method to earn money. We all have heard about this line that “NARI SHIKSHIT TO SAMAJ SHIKSHIT" to so much exit. When women are well educated, self sufficient economically strong and independent then she provides great help to her husband, her family to run the Sir home easily and her income is added to the family income. Just think about it if in every house every woman is working then every house comes in the list of enough good houses and when all houses are going very smoothly then no problem arises in our society. All persons who are living in a society-who are part of our nation-who are living a quality life- then that society is considered as a virtuous society. One more point we would like to add here that when society is virtuous then it means that our country is also virtuous because Society is a narrow concept whereas country is wider concept society is just a part of a nation. Country includes society and when all the person’s who are part of a country is self sufficient it means our whole nation is independent and indirectly we can say that a girl/woman has a very major contribution in increasing in the Gross domestic product or can say GDP growth rate.
Taking into account the laws of Indian nation, many laws are consists with loopholes. These loopholes are converting into a huge problems and put the girl’s in trouble. If a law is made for any injustice happens with any person than that person can use the provisions of other laws as a defense, but what if laws are not made for it? (Can’t say injustice with girl but also can’t say they are treated equally as compared to boys) this is wrong and with that wrong she can't use any law as a defense because law doesn’t exists. As far away she can’t even think about this.
· Child marriage is an offence but simultaneously by killing her dreams, making her the effigy of sacrifices, by doing marriage against her consent is not less than an offence.
· If the men are afraid of, if government introduces the law in the society and it affects their male dominance then they are wrong because for the growth of country, both gender should be treated equally, otherwise it will not work. Moreover, laws are made for the public welfare. So it’s time that each and every person should make themselves an intellectual person and must understand its importance. Furthermore, they can only be effective and fruitful if these laws are obeyed.
· There is an incident where both boy and girl are engaged in a marriage in earlier age i.e. 21 and 18 respectively. After one year, some issues arise between both parties and both were come to the decision of taking divorce. We can say that this is because of absence of mutual understanding. But shockingly, some people’s minds are saying that divorce in earlier age is not a big deal as they can recover this loss after remarrying. Directly, they were saying that early age marriage is beneficial as person have chances to again settle down, but we don’t feel any logic in this chance. Our opinion is though, Marriage is delayed but it must not be ruined. So, we need such law to save the life of person.
· Marriage age should be revised not only for girls but also for boys because we talk about equality either the age of both spouses be same or either at their wish. But the wish of spouse especially offer girl in India no taken seriously. Hence the age limit should be fixed by law and according to us the age sets 21 for girl and 24 for boy.
As we looked in the matter as whole, this article is all about the concept of girl’s right of equality problems of women in this male dominating society and ages concerning matter. No doubt a good number of laws have been made by government, but this increase in minimum age of marriage for girls must be added in the good laws list. As, laws came into force doubts were raised, but at least an initiative should be taken and the decision Off central government is commendable. However, there must be stricter enforcement of law child marriages against our fundamental right. But with this we also have to consider early marriages and a step for its age incensement should be taken as soon as possible by our government with the help of legislative body and make law on it. It’s high time that the government should pay concern towards the exploitation of girl’s rights, their freedom, and their right to treat them equally. There must be proper law for the protection of girl child. Superscript In the last we would like to write a quote of Swami Vivekananda who said,
“Country and nation which do not respect women have never become great nor will ever be in future.”
Author: Ms.Divya (B.A.LLB (Hons)
Co-Author: Mr. Pramod Jangra (LL.B (Hons)
Geeta Institute of Law, Karhans (Panipat)