ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Criminalising under-21 Marriage in India


Atask force set up by the Government of India has re-examined the age at marriage in India for women, and the union cabinet has sanctioned the proposal to raise the minimum marital age of women to 21 years, making it equal to that of men. Though the government introduced this move with good intentions, it is not devoid of any consequences. Since 1978, the minimum marital age for girls has been set at 18 years by law, and the country has witnessed considerable occurrence of child marriages ever since till date. It throws light into the reality that socio-economic development, rather than coercive laws, works in favour of reducing child marriage and empowering women.

The proposal of the central government can be scrutinised through multiple vantage points. When the global consensus has set 18 years as the minimumnot mandatoryage and when an individual is bestowed with voting, consent-giving, and other rights at this age, it is ambiguous as to why the marital age should be raised, especially in a country where parents can use this to curtail the freedom of women by quoting the possibility of elopement. In addition to that, the chances of using the proposal to suppress the sexuality of youth cannot be overruled. The move would hence be counterproductive as womens attainment of decision-making power is further delayed and they are put into the so-called protective care of parental control.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.