fifty years ago DECEMBER 28, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (December 28, 1971): Age of marriage(From an Editorial)

A Census Survey of certain rural and urban blocks indicates that the median age of marriage is 16.1 in villages and 17.1 in the urban areas. The tendency to-day among boys and girls is to postpone marriage until they are able to complete a certain course of education and become self-reliant economically. In the case of girls, particularly those from the lower middle class who constitute the majority, the persistence of traditional extortions like the dowry also causes postponement until such time the parents feel they can afford to pay up. The median age would be even higher but for the very early marriages that still take place in many backward pockets largely due to the lack of awareness of the implicit economic responsibility. It is reported, for instance, that as many as 69 per cent of girls and 39 per cent of boys in Haryana villages are married at below the age of 15. It is much more shocking to learn that 26.4 per cent of the brides and 11.5 per cent of bridegrooms in these cases were below 10 years of age. The Government of India is now understood to have decided to raise the age of marriage of boys to 21 from 18 and of girls to 18 from 15, with special safeguards against any breach of this provision. The safeguards consist in the two-fold responsibility of the enforcement machinery to educate the illiterate and backward classes about the economic risks of child marriage and to bring to the notice of the Government for suitable action cases of infringement of the law.

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