New Marriage Age for Women in India: India set to Revise the Legal Age

The government has formed a high-level committee to revise the legal age for marriage for women in India. The committee will look into the matter and will have to submit their recommendations by 31 July. The average age of marriage for a women as per MedIndia has been 22.2 years while for a male the average age has been 26 years. However, in 2009 though there legal age of marriage was 18, around 7% of women in India were married off before 18 years old.

Many factors will be put up into consideration including the relation between the age of marriage for women and motherhood. This will be discussed thoroughly as certain things such as the health of the mother and infant, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate, and fatality rate depend on the age of the woman. 

Last revision to legal marriage age of women was done in the year 1978 when legal age was revised from 15 to 18 years. However, the legal age for marriage for men is 21 years old in India.

Marrying a girl at a very young age leads to several health and emotional problems concerning the girl. Not only this, there may be complications and health hazards for both the woman and the infant while bearing a child at a young age. The issue at hand remains with the concern of upping the legal marriage age for women. The possible increase of age will result in lesser number of reproductive years for women.

During the budget speech, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that, “Women’s age of marriage was increased from 15 years 18 eighteen 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. There are imperatives of lowering MMR as well as improvement of nutrition levels. Entire issue about the age of a girl entering motherhood needs to be seen in this light. I propose to appoint a task force that will present its recommendations in six months’ time.”.

The task force assigned will be headed by Jaya Jaitley and will include VK Paul. It will be interesting to see what decision the task force comes up with as the legal age for marrying for women is a very sensitive issue and requires many factors to be taken into consideration. Both upping the age, and keeping it the same come with its pros and cons.

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