A few months ago, the Delhi High Court agreed to hear a plea seeking common minimum age of marriage for both men and women. The minimum legal age for marriage in India is 18-years for women and 21-years for men. After independence and adoption of Indian constitution in 1950, the child marriage act has undergone several revisions.
In February this year, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said,
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.
There are imperatives of lowering MMR (maternal mortality rate) 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.
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The task force will re-examine the matters related to motherhood and marriage at an early age. This includes the mortality rates and medical well-being of the mother and child. WCD Minister Smriti Irani quoted:
Centre sets up task force to examine age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering maternal mortality rate, improvement of nutritional levels and related issues.
In our opinion, this will surely be a progressive step for several girls, who at a tender mental age of 18, cannot really judge what kind of life partner they really want. However, while centre is heading to amend the legal marriage age for women, they must also clarify if this will have any impact on the age of POCSO act.
The physical maturity of girls happen much faster than the boys and most teenage girls today do indulge on consensual sex with their partners. The benefit for women should not become yet another trap for men, where girls under 21 voluntarily develop physical relationships and then file false rape cases under POCSO if the boy objects to marriage for compatibility or any other valid reason.
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