18 December 2017
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas

  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • » 02/07/2008, 00.00


    Dubious proposal to lower marriage age to 18

    Nirmala Carvalho

    India’s Law Commission wants to lower the age of marriage for men from 21 to 18 like for women. Its goal is to erase child marriage and its abuses. An expert argues that tinkering with the law to fight abuses will not work; what is needed are better structures and health care.

    New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Law Commission has suggested that the marriageable age for boys and girls be fixed uniformly at 18. At present it is already 18 for girls and 21 for boys. The goal is to fight the widespread problem of marriage between children, but an expert warns that the change could make matters worse. As part of its proposal to reform the system, the Commission has also suggested that marriage when both girls and boys are under 18 be banned and that marriages at an age below 16 be declared null and void. Under the current law child marriage is not invalid even if the girl is under 15 and this despite the fact that section 375 of the Indian Penal Code says it is a crime to have sexual relations with anyone under the age of 15.

    In its motivation the Commission said that marriage between minors is a serious problem, especially in some parts of the country because many girls are pushed by their parents to marry early, a situation that deprives them of any chance they have of getting a decent education and live a life of freedom and dignity.

    At a younger age women are more vulnerable to sexual abuse even within the home. And early pregnancies carry many complications during delivery. The country has in fact a high mortality rate among women in labour and the newly-born. Moreover, young couples are forced to enter the labour force very early, increasing the problem of child labour.

    In order to avoid abuses, the Law Commission calls for the mandatory registration of all marriages.

    Lenin Raghuvansi, a human rights activist and the director of the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, disagrees with the Commission’s recommendations.

    He told AsiaNews that “uniformly fixing the marriageable age at 18—which is also the voting age—is a logical step according to them (the Commission), but the picture changes when considering the fate of the poor and the marginalised compared to the rest of society. For example, Dalits are victims to discrimination under India’s rigid caste system. In many parts of the country they are denied even a minimum of education and have far fewer economic opportunities and access to health care.”

    For the Gwangiu Prize for human rights recipient, “legislators thought that the 1978 Child Marriage Act, which set the minimum age for marriage at 18 for women and 21 for men, would end child marriages. But it did not. Despite the ban, child marriage is still widespread in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and many other states, and not only among Tribals and Dalits.”

    “Lowering the age of marriage will not erase this evil,” he explained. What is needed is for the government to promote long-term policies that improve health care and economic opportunities in rural areas. Only then should we consider lowering the age of marriage.”

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version

    See also

    11/10/2017 12:21:00 INDIA
    Sex with a child bride is rape, says Supreme Court

    The sentence was pronounced today. The bench of Justices does not want to address into the aspect of marital rape. Child marriages are already forbidden by the law, but the tradition continues unchanged in the villages.

    02/03/2017 16:12:00 BANGLADESH
    Justice and Peace Commission condemns Bangladesh’s new child marriage law

    Mgr Gervas Rozario says the Catholic Church will not abide by the new Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2017, which acknowledges "special circumstances" for child marriage to save a girl’s honour.

    13/06/2012 INDIA
    Rajasthan: married off at 9, a 24-yr-old woman wants her marriage annulled
    State High Court orders government to protect Shobha Choudhary and her family after village authorities threaten them. The young woman is finishing a university degree, whilst her husband is semi-illiterate. "I cannot accept such a marriage," she says. Child marriage in india is illegal but widespread.

    22/02/2017 17:08:00 INDIA
    A law faculty at a Catholic college proposes an amendment to the Civil Code

    Marriage law is at the centre of discussions in a country with many religious communities following different rules. The law that allows quick Muslim divorce is one of the main bones of contention. The Catholic Church supports all proposals that support “equality, fraternity and freedom".

    15/02/2006 INDIA
    Compulsory marriage registration to be introduced
    Marriage registration should become compulsory within a few months in India. Under existing rules, proof of marriage ceremony was enough. The Indian Church backs the new rule, but demands it applies to all religions. Human rights activists hail the law: it will help eliminate practices such as polygamy, forced marriages and trafficking in women.

    Editor's choices

    For parish priest in Amadiya, Advent among Mosul refugees sees solidarity stronger than hardships (photos)

    Fr Samir describes an atmosphere of joy and hope, despite the lack of resources and less aid. The struggle for survival has boosted the bond between Christians, Muslims, and Yazidis. About 150 refugee families are still living at the centre, 70 per cent depending on resources provided by the Church. Hundreds of young people attend the prayer meeting in preparation for Christmas.

    Xenophobia and populism. The case of Asia

    Bernardo Cervellera

    Theme studied during symposium jointly organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and by the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development. Tracing the commitment of Churches amid rising hostility towards others, considered as enemies and foreigners. "Migrants" are an important political theme in Germany and in UK Brexit. Testimonies from Latin America and Africa. Asian experiences entrusted to the director of AsiaNews.


    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.


    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google


    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®