Age and marriage: On raising the age of marriage for women

Focus must be on creating social awareness about women’s reproductive health and rights

According to Ms. Jaitly, raising the age of marriage is one of its recommendations, which include a strong campaign to reform patriarchal mindsets, and improved access to education. As per the National Family Health Survey (2019-2021), 23.3% of women aged 20-24 years married before 18, which shows that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, has not been wholly successful in preventing child marriages, especially among the poor. Women’s rights activists point out that parents often use this Act to punish their daughters who marry against their wishes or elope to evade forced marriages, domestic abuse, and lack of education facilities. Hence, within a patriarchal setting, it is more likely that the change in the age limit will increase parents’ authority over young adults. A good, but not easy, way to achieve the stated objective is to take steps to counsel girls on early pregnancies, and provide them the network to improve their health. The focus must be on creating social awareness about women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ensuring girls are not forced to drop out of school or college. Laws cannot be a short cut in the path to social reform.

Source: Read Full Article