Why Do We Support Enhancement Of Minimum Age For Marriage Of Girls From 18 To 21 Years?

Why Do We Support Enhancement Of Minimum Age For Marriage Of Girls From 18 To 21 Years?

  • The proposed amendment is highly progressive in nature,
  • The proposed amendment will delay the child marriage,
  • The proposed amendment gives an opportunity to girls for continuing and completing their education,
  • The proposed amendment gives an opportunity to girls to undergo skilling related training,
  • The proposed amendment gives girls an opportunity to select the education of their choice,
  • The proposed amendment will delay early pregnancy of a girl, leading to safer pregnancy and healthier mother & child,
  • Studies show complete disruption of education of girls after early pregnancy,
  • There will lesser mortality of the mother and the child, during pregnancy and during birth,
  • There will be lesser girl child death while giving birth to a child,
  • This will give opportune opportunity to girl to select her partner of her life,
  • This gives an opportunity for effective participation of a girl in the process of her marriage,
  • It promotes gender equity,
  • Section 3 of The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,2006 provides for Child Marriages to be voidable at the option of contracting party being a Child.

Section3(2) provides that if at the time of filing a petition, the petitioner is a minor, the petition may be filed through his or her guardian or next friend along with the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer.

Section 3(3) provides for filing of the petition at any time but before the child filing the petition completes two years of attaining majority.

Keeping in view the provisions of Section 3(2) read with the provisions of The Majority Act,1857 and also considering the proposed amendment, the child herself can file a petition for annulment of a child marriage between the age of 18 and 21 years without the help of any guardian or best friend or Prohibition Officer.  This protection was available to male child even before the proposed amendment but the opportunity to file this petition was available to a girl child only till the age of 20 years in the light of section 3(3) of the Act.

In reference to Section 3(3) of the Act and based on our field experience we are of opinion that the two years period is not sufficient for a traumatised and deprived girl child to take any decision.

  • Section 3 (1) of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act,2009(RTE) provides that every child of the age group six to fourteen years including a child referred to in clause(d) or clause (e) of Section 2, shall have right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of his or her elementary education.
      • We have always campaigned in the favour of the proposed amendment and also demanded for it, because we strongly feel that the girl child education in villages is delayed and found that in most of the cases, girl child completes her elementary education not before 16-17 years of age and allowing marriage after completion of 18 years of age was found to be a great obstacle in continuing a meaningful education by the girl child.
  • Some activists are in the favour of delayed gauna (A ritual by which a married girl is sent to her in-laws’ place), may be after the girl is a major, but the question is, what about the choice and views of girl in choosing her life partner? Do we really care for the Rights of our girls?
  • We find the proposed amendment in line with National Education Policy, 2020.
  • We find the proposed amendment in line with the proposal lying with the government to enhance the upper age limit under RTE to 18 years of age,
  • The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, popularly known, as Sharda Act, was passed on 28th September 1929, it fixed the age of marriage for girls at 14 years and boys at 18 years. In the year 1949, girls minimum age of marriage was amended to 15 years and in the year 1978 the age was reamended to 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys

The author is a Founding Lifetime Trustee of CRACR & PD. He is an Advocate and a Child Rights Activist and is also a former Member of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights. We at CRACR & PD do not support child marriage. We are in favour of total abolition of child marriage.

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    Mr. Shashank Shekhar

    Founding Lifetime Trustee

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