Do not increase women's minimum age of marriage: Society bodies to govt
New Delhi, Aug 25: Over 100 civil society bodies have urged the government against increasing women's minimum age of marriage.
They have stated that it will not further gender equality, women's rights or empowerment of girls, and will do little to improve the health of mothers and infants.
"If legal equality should be implemented...[make] it 18 years for both men and women," they added.
"It is only in the most superficial sense that having 21 years for both men and women is a sign of gender equality, but somehow this idea has great appeal in liberal circles."
The rights organisations asked how increasing the minimum age of marriage is a step forward when it denies many more women matrimonial status and rights.
They asked how will govt criminalise families whose survival needs and insecurity compel them marry early.
Raising the age of marriage from 18 to 21 for women will lead to an increase in parental backlash against young adults who marry against the wishes of their parents or elope and will lead to criminalisation of sexual activity, they also stated.
The statements endorsed by 2,500 young voices and over 100 civil society organisations said.
Notably, in the Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that a committee was deliberating over a change in marital age. A task force appointed by the Women and Child Development Ministry in June has been consulting civil society members.
"Over the last few years there have been moves to make laws more and more punitive as if all the answers can be achieved through legal change. Merely having a new minimum age of marriage law for women at 21 years without the presence of enabling opportunities in the form of access to higher education and decent job opportunities translates effectively into young women being even more trapped in their natal homes," the statement said.