New Delhi: After the government cleared a proposal of increasing the age of marriage of girls from 18 to 21 years, a controversy has erupted with a Muslim body objecting and the Congress saying that it should not be implemented in 2022.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has expressed its concern over the move to raise the legal age of marriage for women to 21
In a statement, the JIH President Sadatullah Husaini said: “We do not think it is a wise move to raise the legal age of marriage for women to 21 in India. Currently, there is a global consensus that the legal age of marriage for women should be 18 years.”
He said the government feels that increasing the age to 21 will increase the age of motherhood, lower fertility rates and improve the health of mothers and newborns. However, data does not support this approach.
“The poor health indicators of mothers and young infants in our country are because of poverty and malnourishment. Raising the age limit will have no bearing on these health indicators if poverty and poor access to healthcare remain at existing elevated levels. Fertility rates are falling even in states with high rates of early marriage. So assuming that raising the legal age of marriage for women to 21 is going to improve a lot of women is erroneous and not backed by empirical data,” he added
Ina tweet Husaini said, “The government should not pass the law in haste, but evolve a consensus on the issue by initiating a dialogue with community leaders and subject matter experts from the associated domains.”
Congress Chidambaram has an advice
Congress has also said that it is early to introduce the law and before that creating awareness is necessary. P. Chidambaram said, “There is a debate on the wisdom of raising the age of marriage to 21 for girls and making it the same as it is for boys. My view is that the age of marriage should be common for both girls and boys at 21 years. But the amended law should come into force on 1-1-2023 or later. The year 2022 should be used for a massive educational campaign on the benefits of marrying only after a boy or girl attains the age of 21 years.”
The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind argued that the move goes against the law of nature and will create psychological, medical, social and human rights issues. It is evident from surveys that some women who become first-time mothers after the age of 30, might face a lot of problems. The increase in the age limit will also impact the nature of our country’s population, in the long run, which has now more younger people, say the Jamaat leaders.
“Certainly, the young population is a most valuable asset for a country. Once the proposal becomes law, it will negatively affect the tribal communities and subject them to more harassment at the hands of law enforcement machinery,” it said.