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?

Yash Tiwari
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All girls should be able to choose when they get married. They shouldn’t be forced to marry someone just because their parents chose that person for them. There are many cases where the girls have been forced to marry people they don’t even know, let alone love. In the present day of development, most adolescent girls want the same things as boys do – education and jobs. If this was possible for them, they wouldn’t mind waiting until they’re at least 20 or 25 years of age to get married. Adolescent girls in every nook and corner of the world are being subjugated by our society. The majority, if not all, is forced to marry at an age that human rights activists call infantile. There are a few countries that have amended their laws intending to increase the legal age for girls and boys marriage, but these modifications are effective only on paper. Arranged marriages are still flourishing even today, and very young girls are marrying older men (according to tradition).

Although it is heartening to see how girls are making their presence felt in this [adolescent age], the attitude of adult males, who are considered ‘bread winners’ is not very deferential towards them. They throw all kinds of things and then have a field day at her expense. The attitude of these adult men makes it more and more imperative for men, as well as women, to be aware of the legal status of parents. The country is still patriarchal, despite all the progress in maternal health care and family planning. In our country, security has always been an issue for women. In most parts of the world, the need for security does not necessarily stem from poverty alone; recent societal changes have resulted in increased insecurity for women. When a young woman marries, she does so with the belief that she will be cared for until death.

Getting trapped into an early marriage not only ruins their childhood and adolescence but also results in an enormous financial burden on the family. To make matters worse, many of these girls are victims of domestic abuse. In addition to all these, decades of research have shown that girls who marry young are more likely to drop out from school, and have less productive lives in general than those who get married later. And with each passing year, this risk grows. The causes of high underage marriage in India are complex.

A majority of the reasons given by respondents for early age at marriage were due to cultural and economic factors. Poverty was cited as the most influential factor (50.2 percent), followed by ‘arranged marriage’ (38.8 percent) and social status (19.7 percent). Other major reasons included lack of education, early pregnancy, financial need, and lack of employment opportunities for women. Child marriage is an expression of the low status accorded to girls in India. Many other steps need to be taken like improving access to education, financial inclusion, health and nutrition, and ensuring basic standards of living.