New Delhi: Nearly a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that a plan to increase the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years is under review, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday has finally passed the proposal to raise the legal age of marriage for women to 21 years -- the same as men, reports said.
According to a report by The Indian Express, following the Cabinet's approval, the government at the Centre is also eyeing to introduce an amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, and therefore bring amendments to the Special Marriage Act and personal laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The clearance of the proposal is based on recommendations submitted to NITI Aayog in December 2020 by the Centre's task force, headed by Jaya Jaitly, which was constituted to examine "matters pertaining to the age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering MMR (Maternal Mortality Rate), improvement of nutritional levels and related issues".
Top government expert VK Paul, senior officials of the Health Ministry, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Law Ministry were among the members of the task force, which was set up in June last year.
The task force also recommended that a comprehensive public awareness campaign should be made to encourage social acceptance of the decision to raise the legal marriage age of women. The committee has also sought access to schools and universities for girls, including arranging transportation facilities in the case of educational institutes being present in far-off areas.
In addition to this, the committee has also recommended that sex education be formalized and introduced in the school curriculum.
Training of women in polytechnic institutes, skills and business training, and livelihood enhancement have also been suggested as a means to ensure that an increase in marriageable age can be implemented.
Last year, Prime Minister Modi made a mention of raising the legal marriage age for women during his Independence Day speech. He said, "This government is constantly concerned about the health of daughters and sisters. To save the daughters from malnutrition, it is necessary that they're married at the right age."
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