Legal Marriage Age in India Today

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The government says the goal is to provide equal opportunities for women by giving them more time to complete their education, access employment opportunities, reach psychological maturity before marriage and ensure gender parity. John therefore believes that the government would be better off avoiding the issue of legal age and instead fighting to end the practice of dowry, which encourages early marriage. The younger the bride, the lower the dowry that her parents have to pay to the groom`s side. John says the government should also push for better education standards and connections to help graduates find jobs. Marriage is, of course, an instrument of social control, but for many women, it is also a way out of conservative chains. There is growing hostility to interfaith marriage, and several Indian states under the BJP have passed laws that make it difficult for interfaith couples to marry. Legal support, she says, can help girls convince their parents to provide them with higher education and put them on the path to financial independence. A study conducted in India by the International Institute of Population Sciences and Macro International in 2005 and 2006 showed high fertility, poor fertility control and poor fertility outcomes in child marriage. 90.8% of young married women reported not using contraception before giving birth to their first child.

23.9% reported having a child in the first year of marriage. 17.3% reported having three or more children during the marriage. 23% reported rapid rebirth and 15.2% an unwanted pregnancy. 15.3% reported having had an abortion (stillbirths, miscarriages or abortions). [45] Birth rates are higher in slums than in urban areas. [46] Muslim organizations in India have long argued[9],[33] that Indian laws passed by Parliament, such as the Child Marriage Act 2006, do not apply to Muslims because marriage is a personal legal entity. [6] [8] The Delhi High Court and other high state courts of India disagreed. The Delhi court, for example, ruled that the Child Marriage Prohibition Act 2006 takes precedence over all personal laws and regulates every Indian citizen.

[34] The decision states that a minor marriage in which the man or woman is over the age of 16 would not be a void marriage, but an annullable marriage that would be valid if no action is taken by a court that has the power to order otherwise. If one of the parties is under 18 years of age, the marriage is void, as the age of consent in India is 18 years, sexual relations with minors under 18 years of age is a legal crime under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. [34] In addition, this measure could end the threat of teenage marriages, where girls between the ages of 14 and 15 are married after being described as 18. Even now, 23.3% of women in the country are married before the age of 18. Data show that the drop-out rate for girls in grades 1 to 5 and grades 6 to 8 is only 1.2% and 2.6%, respectively, compared to 15.1% in grades 9 to 10. We hope that this decision will have a positive impact on girls` dropout rates. Mahima married a few days after her 16th birthday. It was a tight affair in his village in Bihar. Covid-19 offered his family the perfect opportunity to organize this discreet wedding without attracting too much attention. «Schools were closed, I had nothing to do at home. Also, nowadays it is not so easy to get an ideal groom. He took me to Delhi, he works as an air conditioning fitter and I took a job in a beauty salon,» jokes Mahima, who is expecting her first child and a legal marriage license when she turns 18 later this year.

The task force, led by Jaya Jaitly, also recommended that the government improve women`s access to schools and universities, including transportation from remote areas, vocational qualification and training, and sex education in schools. The law will be ineffective if these recommendations are not implemented, which should be a prerequisite for raising the age of marriage for girls, according to the Working Group`s report. The Law Commission of India proposed in 2018 to normalize the age of marriage to 18. She noted that there should be no distinction between spouses in terms of marital age, as they have equal rights. They point out that although marriage is currently illegal for girls under the age of 18, child marriage remains a major challenge in the country – up to a quarter of women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18, according to the National Family Health Survey, 2019-21.