Increase in minimum age of marriage for women to 21 years two years after Bill is notified: Centre

The move would provide ample time for citizens to prepare for this momentous reform, government adds

March 15, 2023 07:41 pm | Updated March 16, 2023 09:07 am IST - New Delhi

In this April 17, 2017 photo, an underaged bride, right, stands with family members during her marriage at a temple near Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh. File image for representation.

In this April 17, 2017 photo, an underaged bride, right, stands with family members during her marriage at a temple near Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh. File image for representation. | Photo Credit: AP

The increase in minimum age of marriage for women to 21 years as provisioned in the Prohibition of Child Marriage Amendment Bill, 2021, would come into effect two years after the Bill is notified following its passage in Parliament, the government said on Wednesday. This gap would provide ample time to citizens to prepare for this “momentous” reform, it added.

The Bill, currently with the Parliamentary Standing Committee, envisions making the age of marriage of women at par with men.

It has provisions to make consequential amendments relating to age of marriage in The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872; The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936; The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937; The Special Marriage Act, 1954; The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; and The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, the Ministry of Women and Child Development informed the Rajya Sabha.

The Ministry said that the task force which had been constituted before the introduction of the Bill in Parliament had examined the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood and some other related aspects as well.

After holding wide consultations with all relevant stakeholders, it had recommended raising the age of marriage for women to 21 years at par with men to provide an effective impetus for greater gender equality in society, paving way for a girl to join and complete education, professional training and vocational courses.

The task force had also recommended that the government may choose either of the two alternatives for the date of implementation of the amendment - two years from the date of notification of the amendment or a staggered schedule raising the age of marriage by one year at a time, starting one year after the notification of the amendment.

After examining all aspects pertaining to child marriages, including the recommendations given by the task force, the government said it has proposed implementation of the amendments after two years from the date of notification, in order to provide ample time to citizens to prepare for this momentous reform.

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