The task force set up to take a re-look at the age of marriage for women has submitted its report to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Women and Child Development, it is reliably learnt.
A government source said the report was submitted either “late December or very early in January”.
Chairperson of the committee Jaya Jaitley refused to comment on the contents of the report submitted after a delay of five months. When the panel was formed in June last year, it was given until July 31, 2020, to finalise its report.
A person close to the development said the report contains “concrete suggestions on all aspects”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech last year spoke about a panel formed to decide on the “right age of marriage” for women.
Maternal mortality rates, nutrition levels
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech last year proposed a panel on the “age of a girl entering motherhood” to lower maternal mortality rates and improve nutrition levels. But when the decision to appoint a task force was announced, its terms of reference included examining “the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood” with health and nutritional status of mothers and infants.
Women’s rights activists have opposed the suggestion of raising the age of marriage from 18 to 21 for women and have cited evidence to show that such a move may be used to incarcerate young adults marrying without the consent of their parents.
They suggest that instead of taking coercive steps, the government must ensure access to education and employment for women which will help delay the age at which they get married. It is also widely believed among policy watchers that the “age of marriage” issue is a subterfuge for controlling population growth which had found mention in PM’s 2019 I-Day speech, while the NFHS-5 data shows that India’s population is stabilising.