Kerala State Women’s Commission (KSWC) is expected to place before the National Women’s Commission a proposal for raising the minimum age limit of marriage for both men and women, considering the growing rate of divorces among youngsters.

The proposal being considered by KSWC is to suggest enhancement of the minimum age limit for marriage for women from 18 to 25 and that of men from 21 to 28 or more, KSWC Chairperson Justice D Sreevdevi told PTI.

However, women’s outfits, including the pro-Left forums, responded cautiously to the move maintaining that a decision on such a delicate issue should be taken only after examining all aspects of it in detail.

The increasing rate of divorces and of split-ups among youngsters was the single-most factor that prompted the Commission to moot the idea, though a definite conclusion would be drawn up only after a threadbare debate on it, Justice Sreedevi said.

“The idea was first mooted by the National Women’s Commission, which has sought our suggestion on this. Though the KSWC favoured the idea of increasing the age limit for marriages, we have not taken a final decision.

To work out our stand, we are planning to conduct a meeting of various government agencies, women outfits, NGOs and leaders here on October 28. National Women’s Commission Chairperson Girija Vyas and other members will also be coming” Justice Sreedevi said.

Despite its image as a “progressive State”, majority of girls in Kerala were married very early when they are not matured enough to take decisions on their life, she noted.

“At the age of 18, many girls are not capable to take rational decisions. They will not get even a degree at that stage. But, parents are keen to have their children married off early as they want to fulfil their duty. This is especially so in the case of girls,” she said.

If the minimum age for marriages was increased, youngsters would get enough time to complete their studies, secure jobs and become self-reliant, she added.

The National Commission asked its State counterparts to formulate their views on the matter in the wake of the National Law Commission’s suggestion to explore the possibility of pegging the minimum marriage age of both men and women at 18. Now the minimum age limit for girls was 18 that of boys is 21.

The Law Commission based mooted proposal holding that as per the Article 14 of the Constitution every citizen was equal before law so the age of marriages for both men and women c could be the same, she noted.

CPI(M) leader and Rajya Sabha member T.N.Seema, however, struck a cautious note saying that a host of socio-economic factors should be taken into account instead of rushing to conclusions on this delicate issue.

“Of course, early marriage of girls is now a trend in Kerala. Even educated and well-settled parents are not exempt. Many of them think it is better not to take risk of delaying the marriage of their daughters. Enhancing the age will help arrest this trend”, Ms. Seema told PTI.

At the same time, we should not be oblivious of such factors as the health of women and their re-productive age while taking a decision on a vital issue like this, Ms. Seema said.