Women MPs flag gender imbalance in House panel on marriage Bill

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi. File

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi. File

Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita, the only woman member of the parliamentary panel reviewing the Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, that seeks to increase the legal age for marriage for women from 18 to 21 years, in a letter to the committee Chairman Vinay Sahasrabudhe, requested him to allow all women MPs to testify before the panel.

The Rajya Sabha has 29 women MPs and the Lok Sabha has 81.

The Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports headed by BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabudhe. Ms. Dev is the only woman MP in this 31-member panel.

Many other women MPs have strongly reacted to the gender disparity in a panel that will deliberate on a key gender issue.

Shiv Sena MP in Rajya Sabha Priyanka Chaturvedi shot off a letter to Chairman Venkaiah Naidu criticising the move to send the Bill to a panel consisting predominantly of men. Stating that participation of women is essential in a discussion on the Bill that concerns issues faced by women, Ms Chaturvedi said: “This is disheartening to note that a bill so pertinent to women and the Indian society will be deliberated upon in a committee where the representation is highly skewed.”

Other MPs took to social media to express their outrage.

“There are a total of 110 female MPs but the government chooses to assign a bill that affects every young woman in the country to a panel that has 30 men and only one woman. Men will continue to decide the rights of women. And women will be made mute spectators,” DMK’s Lok Sabha MP K. Kanimozhi said.

Ms. Dev in her letter to Mr. Sahasrabuddhe, invoking Rules 84(3) and 275 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), proposed that “any woman member of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha be empowered to testify in writing or in person before the committee on this issue.”

The quoted rules pertain to summoning experts to a committee to testify on the subject on hand.

The bill will apply to all the communities and once enacted, will supersede the existing marriage and personal laws.

The introduction of the bill in Parliament was opposed by some members, who had contended that the move infringed upon several personal laws in violation of the fundamental rights and demanded that it be referred to a parliamentary panel for greater scrutiny.

The bill seeks to amend seven personal laws — the Indian Christian Marriage Act, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, the Special Marriage Act, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, the Hindu Marriage Act and the Foreign Marriage Act.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 1:35:02 am |