In New Zealand, however, the age of marriage is 20 for both men and women. In Singapore, persons under the age of 21 who wish to marry must obtain parental consent, and those under the age of 18 also require a special licence issued by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. However, she agrees that every branch of society, such as government, political parties or civil society, must work to make an older age for girls` marriage acceptable to communities. “It is not by changing the law that you change society or the institution of marriage, which is a social institution accompanied by cultural practices.” An article published in the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy that examined marriage-related legislation around the world showed that in Mozambique, the age at which brides and grooms can marry is the same at 18. Ironically, there are about 56% of child marriages (under the age of 18) in Mozambique, which is much higher than in India. This suggests that the mere introduction of a law that is equivalent to the minimum legal age of marriage does not necessarily show an increase in the improvement of the status of women and the achievement of the objectives enumerated by the government when it introduced this law. It is imperative that the government complement this legislation with various other frameworks and systems. However, this does not mean that it is useless to introduce parity at the minimum age of marriage and will not bring results. It is crucial not to implement this law in isolation, but with other policies to achieve the objectives set out by the government. With the minimum age of marriage of 21, a woman is mentally, physically and financially better able to defend herself against pressure or abuse from her family because she married early or married against her will. Teenage pregnancies are associated with a high risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, which is life-threatening for both the child and the mother.
Therefore, raising the legal age of marriage will help reduce maternal mortality and will also have a positive impact on women`s mental health. In addition, it is often the lack of educational opportunities that leads parents to marry off their daughters at a young age. Keeping girls in school, especially in secondary school, is a key strategy to reduce child marriage, according to the World Bank. There are various personal laws in India that specifically govern different religions. The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 sets the legal age of marriage at 21 for the groom and 18 for the bride. Similarly, the Indian Christian Marriage Act of 1872 sets the age of 18 for the bride and 21 for the groom. The Foreign Marriage Act 1969 and the Special Marriage Act 1954 also provide for a similar minimum age for marriage. The 1937 Law on the Application of Muslim Personal Law (Shariah) provides that a boy and a girl who have reached puberty may marry. Will raising the age of marriage for women strengthen them? Subsequently, on 21 December 2021, the Child Marriage Prohibition (Amendment) Bill 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Bill amends the Child Marriage Prohibition Act 2006 to raise the minimum age for marriage for women. In addition to raising the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21, the bill also provides for the annulment of child marriages up to the age of 23 instead of 20, and that the provisions of the potential law take precedence over any other laws, customs, customs or practices governing the parties to the marriage.
according to the bill. Laws prohibiting marriage before the age of 18 have been in force in India since the 1900s. Nevertheless, child marriage continues to be practiced. In 2005, it was found that almost half of women aged 20 to 24 had married before the legal age. If we start treating a child with someone under the age of 21 for the purposes of marriage, how far are we from denying them the right to be counted as adults in terms of sexual autonomy? The age of consent was 14 in 1925, 16 in 1940 and 18 in 2013. No girl under the age of 18 can be considered to consent to sexual relations under the current law. Raising the age of marriage and the age of consent has always been seen in India as a progressive measure to favour women. So, are we about to raise the age of consent to 21 as well? Anecdotal evidence already indicates that consensual sexual relations with girls under the age of 18 are largely criminalized at the request of families. In 2008, the Law Commission proposed that the legal age of marriage be set at 18 for both men and women. Even the United Nations General Assembly recommended it in 1989.
The draft law on the age of marriage is deeply political. After the amendment of the Muslim Divorce Law, the government raised the minimum age for marriage. In fact, it systematically hijacks the personal laws of communities, evolving into a unified civil code (UCC) without promulgating one. The marriage bill was sent to a parliamentary committee, but another controversial law passed amends the electoral law. It amends both the Representation of the People Acts of 1950 and 1951. Ironically, the change in suffrage related to the definition of all young people under the age of 21 as children in the Marriage Act strengthens the right to vote for 18-year-olds.