Watch: Here is reaction of Batla House girls on increase of women’s marriage age
A bill that seeks to fix 21 years as the uniform age of marriage for women and men and introduced in Lok the Sabha on Tuesday has triggered a debate in society whether it is the right decision.
Sumaiya Babar speaks with a few girls of Batla House-based Dynamic to know their view point on the issue. The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to increase the marriageable age of women from 18 to 21 years, was sent to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny after it was introduced in the LS.
Many Muslim organisations have expressed their dismay over the Centre’s move. Opposition political parties also opposed it.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi termd the Bill against fundamental rights. “An 18-year-old can vote but cannot get married.”
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) President Syed Sadatullah Husaini has expressed concern over the government move to raise the legal age of marriage for women to 21. The Union Cabinet has recently approved the introduction of a new bill that would amend the ‘The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA)’ to raise the legal age of marriage of women from 18 to 21 years.
He said: “We do not think it is a wise move to raise the legal age of marriage for women to 21 in India. Currently, there is a global consensus that the legal age of marriage for women should be 18 years. This is being followed in maximum countries including many developed countries.
“The government feels that increasing the age to 21 will increase the age of motherhood, lower fertility rates and improve the health of mothers and newborns. However, data does not support this approach. The poor health indicators of mothers and young infants in our country are because of poverty and malnourishment. Raising the age limit will have no bearing on these health indicators if poverty and poor access to healthcare remain at existing elevated levels. Fertility rates are falling even in states with high rates of early marriage. So assuming that raising the legal age of marriage for women to 21 is going to improve the lot of women is erroneous and not backed by empirical data. Besides, the move goes against the law of nature.
“It will create psychological, medical, social and human rights issues. It is evident from surveys that some woman becomes first time mother after the age of 30, might face a lot of problems. The increase in age limit will, also impact on the nature of our country’s population, in the long run which has now more number of younger people. Certainly, the young population is a most valuable asset for a country. Once, the proposal becomes law, it will negatively affect the tribal communities and subject them to more harassment at the hands of law-enforcement machinery.”
Husaini said the government should not pass the law in haste, but evolves a consensus on the issue by initiating a dialogue with community leaders and subject matter experts from the associated domains.