According to sources, following the cabinet’s approval, the Government will introduce an amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and consequently bring amendments to the Special Marriage Act and personal laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 for the groom. The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men, respectively.
This proposal was recommended by the task force headed by Jaya Jaitley in Niti Aayog. Pediatrician VK Paul was also a part of the task force. Delay in marriage has a positive impact on the economic, social and health of families, women, children and society, the task force said.
This change is a much needed one for the changing society. Women are achieving equally, if not more than men, and keeping the marriage age as 18 for women and 21 for men also highlights a feature of patriarchy. Raising the bar to 21 will ensure that women get more opportunities for higher education and career.