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Increasing Age at Marriage for Women Treats Symptom Rather Than Cause, Says Poonam Muttreja

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Increasing Age at Marriage for Women Treats Symptom Rather Than Cause, Says Poonam Muttreja

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The Union cabinet has given the green light to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21, bringing it to the same level as that for men. While Rajya Sabha’s MP Jaya Bachchan called the move a good one, which will give girls a chance to study more and better employment opportunities, not all activists are in favor of the move.

Population Foundation of India executive director Poonam Muttreja said in an exclusive conversation with CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan on Thursday that increasing the age of marriage is about treating the symptom rather than the cause.
Muttreja pointed to a recent national family health survey which shows that a quarter of the girl population in India is married before the age of 18.
“I don’t support early marriage, I support late marriage, but it doesn’t happen with a law, it happens when you make sure girls are educated, that they are empowered, that they have the opportunity. to enter the labor market, etc. ” she said.

“What we see as a problem, society as a whole sees as a solution. They see it as a solution because they do not feel safe for their daughters given the sexual abuse in our society, given the fact that it is not safe for girls to go to school, discrimination , inequalities, these are the problems that we have to deal with. So we have to make sure to make the life of girls safer, we have to make sure that the laws that have been passed in India for women are implemented ”, she explained.

Sending girls to remote schools is often seen as a handicap by many layers of society, added Muttreja and called on the nation to create opportunities for girls to stay in school and invest in their development. skills.

The decision to raise the age bar came a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government was deliberating on the minimum age for marriage for women.

“This government is constantly concerned about the health of girls and sisters. To save girls from malnutrition, they need to be married at the right age,” Modi said during his Independence Day speech. ‘last year.

Former Samata party leader Jaya Jaitly, who led the four-member task force that recommended changing the age, said there were two main reasons to focus on.

“If we are talking about gender equity and empowering women in all areas, we cannot leave marriage aside because it is a very strange message that a girl may be fit to marry at 18 years, which cuts off the possibility of going to university, and the man has the opportunity to prepare for life and earn until the age of 21. But these days when girls are capable of so many things and the main reason they are married is that they are not an income earning family member but why do we allow them to feel that way? She told PTI.

According to sources quoted by the PTI news agency, the government is likely to introduce a bill during the current winter session of parliament to amend the 2006 law prohibiting child marriage. The bill could also seek to make consequential amendments to various personal marriage laws of different communities to ensure a uniform marriage age, they said.

(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)

Increasing Age at Marriage for Women Treats Symptom Rather Than Cause, Says Poonam Muttreja

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