Should the age of marriage for women be raised to 21?
While going about my daily business of lazying around I grabbed the newspaper from the pile and proceeded onto my newly found interest of reading the editorials of The Hindu.
I was not so surprised to see a topic that interested me but I am surprised to find myself writing this in the middle of the night.
There was something that lit up inside of me while I was reading the conversation between Madhu Mehra and Jayna kothari which was moderated by Jagriti Chandra about Should the age of marriage for women be raised to 21?
I didn't understand the reason behind this and I still do not.
The reasons why the Government of India feels that the age of marriage for women should be raised are: Maternal Mortality Rate and Improving nutritional levels.
The above reasons were given by Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech on Feburary 1, 2020.
Maternal Mortality Rate:
Maternal Mortality Rate is an issue that has been going on for ages in India. In basic terms, MMR refers to the death of a women due to complications after birth. In India, especially the rural regions, the percentage of parents marrying off their daughters as soon as they turn 18 is very high. This in turn leads to an increase in the number of pregnancies in the age gap of 18-20 which thus leads to increase in the MMR.
The important thing to note here is that, increasing the age of marriage to reduce the MMR is not the ideal thing to do. You cannot cross one obstacle by jumping over another.
Increasing the legal minimum age for marriage to reduce MMR, in my opinion, is not going to solve problems but instead is going to create more. It will take away all the left and existing freedom that girls have at the age of 18 and the world including the law would not be viewing them as adults but instead as children.
What is required here is the urgent need for Sexual Education at school level be it urban or rural, the need for grown adults at the age of 18 to know enough about their bodies to make the right decison and not fall prey to society's expectations.
As stated by Madhu Mehra, "Minimum age of marriage does not mean mandatory age."
In my opinion, there should not even exist a separate legal minimum age for marriage. If a person is considered an adult at the age of 18, that should be the end of it. I do not see the point behind the "right age for marraige".
The stereotypical and the backward mindset of people arises from laws such as these, where the man is required to be 21 because he is only then considered mature enough to marry and the women who is required to be 18 both because of maturity level and the need for women to be younger than men in an Indian marriage.
Women empowerment cannot occur by focussing on such issues. What is required is education and knowledge to all, what is required is for people to know and realise that a woman does not need a marriage to be socially and culturally accepted.
In conclusion, changing the law and raising the age bar for marraige of women is not going to help solve problems. Already existing marriage laws need to be implemented strongly in deeper parts of India.
This was my first go at writing about a topic that I feel strongly about. It is possible that you do not understand my viewpoint or what arguments I put forward. I will try to continue to write about topics that I like and improve my presentation of thoughts along the way.
Until next time!