DEBATE AROUND MINIMUM AGE OF MARRIAGE FOR WOMEN
Since PM NARENDRA MODI addressed the nation on INDEPENDENCE DAY, 2020 about raising the legal age for marriage of women in India, there has been an ongoing debate. The controversy is for what should be done and what should be done the public suggests for the same.
We live in a country that sees girls as the embodiments of Goodness of wealth, knowledge, and destruction; ironically, the same society sees the same girl as a burden, responsibility, and liability.
Is an 18-year-old girl too young to marry? An appointed government panel is studying the question, PM Modi said recently.
Well, we can see that a minimum age given as a “MANDATORY AGE” by most of the population. The given period only means that there could be criminal prosecution under the child marriage law below that age.
Getting eligible for marriage at the age of 18 does not mean that as soon as the girl turns 18, you bound her in a bond and pressurize her under responsibilities, which she is not ready to take or carry.
Many say that girls mature earlier than boys. So they should have a lower age of marriage, but this is a very old concept now.
It is the 21st century; if you say that men and women are equal, then don’t discriminate by something that is the most fundamental part of life.
Marriage is not something that is done to gain social or economic status.
Many experts who favor raising the marriage age for girls from 18 to 21 years- the same as for boys- say it will have many social and economic benefits, including reducing malnutrition and maternal mortality.
But others say that marrying before 18 is more about poverty, lack of access to education, and inability to find jobs rather than social pressures and community practices.
We can say that there is a problem with society’s mentality – taking a girl child as a burden from the start and finding all means and ways to get rid of that burden.
No doubt that better education and job opportunities will reduce early marriage.
Every fourth woman in India is married by the age of 18.
Further, on if we see there are other setbacks too if a girl’s marriage occurs at a young age :
BAD FOR THE WOMEN AND CHILD:
A WHO survey across 29 countries, including India, shows early childbearing increases the risk of death during pregnancy and labor. Girls under 18 years are at greater risk during childbirth than those aged 20-22 years.
Also, girls married early are twice as likely to be undernourished as those married 25 years and above.
· India has a higher maternal mortality rate than any of its BRICS counterparts. It does better than Bangladesh and Nepal but worse than Pakistan and Sri Lanka
· Early childbearing also raises risks for the child. A study found that becoming a mother before 19 has a 20-30% higher risk of preterm and low-weight birth than at 20-24 years. Children of teenage mothers are more likely to die in infancy.
WORKING WOMEN MEANS MORE WEALTH:
Women trapped early in-home and fulfilling responsibilities can’t go out to work, which is not just a personal but also a national loss. A 2018 report by the McKinsey Global Institute said India’s GDP would be $770 billion higher by 2025 if women got the same opportunities to work as men. According to Oxfam, unpaid work by Indian women is worth 3.1% of the GDP.
LARGE FAMILY SIZE
INCREASE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
DECLINE IN PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH FOR WOMEN
TRAFFICKING AND SALES OF GIRLS BECOMES EASIER.
THE COUPLE REMAINS IMMATURE TO COPE UP WITH MARRIAGE (fail to understand the value of marriage.)
No doubt, early marriage is a lifetime of disadvantage and deprivation, especially for girls.
It’s high time now that we realize that raising the age to 21 is necessary for the foundation of a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable country.
Education and awareness have undoubtedly played a key to empowerment and have reduced the percentage of women getting married at an early age, but still, we have a lot reduced.
SHE IS NEITHER A BURDEN NOR A LIABILITY,
SHE IS JUST A HUMAN WHO WISHES TO ACHIEVE HER DREAMS!
AND LIVE A LIFE WHAT SHE DECIDES FOR HERSELF AS AN INDIVIDUAL!
Let’s hope the government panel in charge of the issue makes a wise decision. And the minimum age of a girl for marriage should raise to 21 years.
PENNED BY MEENAL JAIN.
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