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Union Min Smriti Irani Tables 'historic' Bill To Raise Age Of Marriage For Women To 21 Yrs

Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development, Smriti Irani on Tuesday tabled The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha

Smriti Irani

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Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development, Smriti Irani on Tuesday tabled The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha, calling it a 'historic step'. The bill aims to introduce parity in the legal marriage age of men and women. 

While proposing the bill, Irani asserted that the act should be applicable across all religions, castes, and creeds. "We're, in a democracy, 75 years late in providing equal rights to men and women to enter into matrimony. Through this amendment, for the first time, men and women will be able to make a decision on marriage at the age of 21, keeping in mind the right to equality," said Union Minister Smriti Irani. 

"This act should be applicable across all religions, all caste, all creed. I request that it should be sent to the standing committee. While introducing this act, this is a historic step," she added. 

Opposition raises objection 

Meanwhile, Opposition leaders, including Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, Trinamool Congress’ Saugata Roy, NCP's Supriya Sule raised objections to the bill.

"It's against the right to freedom under Art 19. An 18-yr-old can choose a PM, can have a live-in relationship but you are denying the right to marriage. What have you done for an 18-yr-old? Women labor force participation in India lower than Somalia," Owaisi said. 

"Except for Women's Reservation Bill, Govt doesn't believe in consulting anybody. It's very important that such an imp Bill has to be sent to Standing Committee or Select Committee & they've to review it & ask for opinions in civil society & then bring the Bill," said DMK MP Kanimozhi.

Centre clears proposal for raising marriage age for women

The Union Cabinet on December 15 cleared a proposal that would increase the minimum marriage age for women from 18 to 21 years, the same as that of men. The proposal was framed on basis of recommendations made by a task force set up by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Headed by Jaya Jaitley, the task force made extensive recommendations based on consultations from experts, young adults, young women, and others whom the decision affects directly. The development comes over a year after the plan was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day address in 2020. 

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