Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Gender Justice Shouldn’t the legal age for marriage be the same for girls and boys both? Reply To: Shouldn’t the legal age for marriage be the same for girls and boys both?

Manpreet Singh
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It is very important for girls to be able to get some independence and not get married early. We have made marriage compulsory by using social norms in order to achieve social and economic status. However, the increased marriable age to 21 years will not be that impactful. Minimum marriage age does not imply compulsory age. It only shows that under those years there could be criminal prosecution under the child marriage law. Raising the age of marriage to 21 years could mean that girls will have no say in their personal affairs until they are 21 years old. Surprisingly, the law against child marriage is widely used by parents against eloping daughters. It has become a tool of parental control and punishment for boys or girls who choose to be their husbands. Therefore, most cases are taken to court by arranged marriages. And only a third of all cases related to arranged marriages, sometimes brought by parents or husbands to dissolve or dissolve marriages that have broken down as a result of domestic violence or marital affairs. Thus, increasing the marriable age will not help much.
Increasing the age of 21 could mean continuing parental control of girls until the age of 21. We have seen this in the High Court and the Kerala High Court in the Hadiya case, where the decision of an older woman to marry was challenged by her parents. This is how it plays out in the Indian context. An important provision in the PCMA is that it allows a minority group to reject the marriage or cause it to be dissolved for up to two years to get the majority. This allows girls to fall for their partners to demand that their marriages be protected. This right should not be taken away. The legal age does not speak or provide protection in child marriage, it only makes it punishable, the marriage always works. Thus the legal power of the PCMA and its flexibility, rather than being persecuted, empowers social workers to prevent marriages.
So in order to have a stronger impact, girls or women need to be made more independent and educated so that they do not become overly dependent on the patriarchal setting, which is the cause of the problem. Simply increasing the age of marriage will not solve the big problem.