The government on Tuesday 21st December 2021, introduced a bill in Lok Sabha which focuses on the amendment of the prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 to raise the marriage age for girls from 18 to 21 years and bring it at par with men. This bill has successfully started socio-political debates over whether social attitudes can be fully legalised.
The government made it clear that the bill seeks to override all existing laws which govern the parties in relation to marriage. All the existing laws like the Indian Christian Marriage Act, the Divorce Act, the Hindu Marriage act and all others will be brought in consonance to this particular amendment. This bill will come into force two years from the date it receives the signature of the President.
According to the government on the Prime Minister it is necessary for the girls to be married at the right age this bill will empower Young women by increasing their access to education and reducing infant mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio. However there have been a lot of protests against this bill as a number of elites and people believe that this bill will only strengthen patriarchy and might prove to be problematic instead of improving the condition of women in India.
Various women organisation have show their concern regarding this bill according to them the scope of this bill is very narrow as it focuses only on increasing the marriage age rather than focusing on the circumstances that early marriage is a symptom of. Increasing the age of marriage will either harm or have no impact by itself under the root causes of the women’s disempowerment are addressed. As it is a no hidden the fact that the Indian society is deeply entrenched in patriarchy and this act might come handy for parents and allowe them to control the autonomy of young girls and to penalise them for their sexual choices.
People are also concerned that if a married girl of 18 on 19 years faces matrimonial problems and issues and approaches the code for a solution then her husband might plead that the marriage is void and she is devoid of her matrimonial rites. For solving this problem the government it need to specify the condition of women in under age marriage and the government needs to ensure that these women will not lose their matrimonial rights.
The task force had asked the government to increase the number of educational institutions for girls and provide better accessibility to such institutions. Government needs to provide skill training ,better opportunities to girls then only such acts and laws will be able to truly achieve their objectives. Government needs to focus on bringing in structural changes by providing better employment opportunities, a safe and sound environment and society. These are the more pressing issues at the moment and trying to solve them will actually impose a financial burden on the government whereas implementing an act in the parliament won’t be imposing any kind of economical or financial burden on the government. The priorities need to be sorted before making any further amendments in the constitution.