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04 Feb, 0023

7 Min Read

Marriage Laws for Minors

GS-I : Social issues Issues related to Child

Marriage Laws for Minors

  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006, considers such marriages to be crimes, and the Supreme Court will determine whether minor girls can marry based on custom or personal law.
  • Men who marry teenage girls would be subject to strict regulations dictating imprisonment ranging from two years to life, the Assam Cabinet has announced.

Key points about Marriage Laws for Minors

  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) filed a notice with the Supreme Court challenging a recent Punjab and Haryana High Court decision that stated that a girl could be married based on Muslim personal law after reaching puberty. The bench was led by the Chief Justice of India.
  • High Court arguments: According to the HC, Muslim personal law will take precedence over the special marriage law.
  • The High Court's order would not serve as a legal precedent for other courts, according to the Supreme Court.
  • The National Commission for Women (NCW) has petitioned the Supreme Court to equalize the minimum marriage age for Muslim women with that of people of other faiths.
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006, was amended to raise the minimum age for women to be married from 18 to 21 years old by the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
  • The Supreme Court has urged Parliament to decrease the POCSO Act's and the IPC's 18-year consent age, which criminalises any teenage consenting sexual behavior.
  • Many incidents of consensual sexual assault reported in the nation under POCSO and other laws affecting 16–18-year-old youngsters are reported by the victim's family because they don't like how the teenagers are acting.
  • A parliamentary standing committee received the referral.
  • The National Family Health Survey-5 data states that 32.2% of women in Jharkhand got married before becoming 18 years old.
  • 41.6% of women in West Bengal were married before they turned 18 years old.
  • According to data from the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS 5), child marriage decreased in India from 47.4% in 2005-06 to 23.3% in 2020-21.

Current Marriage laws:

  • For a woman and a male, the legal marriage age is 18 and 21, respectively. Marriage at a lower age is considered child marriage, which is against the law. Nevertheless, this varies amongst communities.
  • Muslim personal law in India allows people who have reached puberty—that is when they become 15—to get married while they are still minors.
  • The minimum age for marriage is 18 years for women and 21 years for men under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936, the Special Marriage Act of 1954, and the Indian Christian Marriage Act of 1872.
  • According to the PCMA (prevention of child marriage act) of 2006, child marriage is illegal in India. Marriage before the legal age is forbidden, and those who coerce children into marriage risk punishment.
  • There is a contradiction between the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and Muslim personal law about the minimum age of marriage because the PCMA does not contain any language that states that the PCMA law will take precedence over any other laws on the subject.

Early marriage effects:

  • Girls who got married before turning 18 lacked reproductive freedom and were denied other rights, like education and autonomy, and frequently went without a living.
  • Anemia affects over 59% of Indian females between the ages of 15 and 19.
  • Early pregnancy can lead to poor nutritional status, and poor mother and child health.
  • Education: In NFHS-5, 41% of women nationwide have completed at least 10 years of formal education. Women who finish their education frequently choose to provide their children with better care and nourishment.
  • Poor Management: Due to early duty to manage the family, adequate skill sets are not developed, resulting to poverty and poor family planning. High Fertility Rate: Due to high childbearing ability Minor girls are more likely to have a big family than the replacement rate of 2.1.

Child Marriage:

  • According to Census 2011, there were over 12 million child marriages reported in the nation.
  • A girl or boy who marries before reaching the minimum legal age is said to have engaged in child marriage (18 years).

The reasons behind Child Marriage:

  • It is a social custom that is widely followed.
  • Parents who are poor and illiterate.
  • Family's social and economic situation, as well as the family's and the community's cultural values.
  • lack of knowledge of the negative implications and lack of convenient access to education.

Political favoritism:

  • Politicians find it challenging to criticize the practise of child marriage because doing so could result in them losing support and votes.
  • marriage as it could result in a loss of support and votes.
  • There are several reports of child marriage being utilized to traffic girls from low-income and tribal families for the sex trade or as cheap labor.
  • In rural places, it is more common.
  • The central and western regions of India have the greatest rates of child marriage, whereas the eastern and southern regions have lower rates.
States with a high rate of child marriage:
  • There are 70 districts with a high prevalence of child marriage scattered throughout 13 States, including Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • According to the National Family Health Survey-5 report (NFHS-5), 11.7% of Assamese girls give birth before the age of 18, and 31.8% get married at an illegal age. The respective averages for the country are 23.3% and 6.8%.
  • The two states with the highest rates of child marriage are West Bengal (41.6%) and Bihar (40.8%).
  • Child marriage has decreased in Madhya Pradesh from 32.4% in NFHS-4 to 23.1% in NFHS-5.
Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021:
  • The National Family Health Survey 2019–21 (NFHS–5) found that 23% of women aged 20 to 24 had their first marriage before becoming 18 years old.
  • The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 in India was the first piece of legislation to outlaw child marriage.
  • According to the 1929 Act, it was illegal for boys and girls under the age of 18 to get married.
  • The minimum age was raised in this Act's 1978 amendment to 18 for girls and 21 for males.
  • The same minimum age restrictions were included in the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006, which replaced the 1929 Act.
  • With the passage of the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the legal age of consent for female marriage would rise to 21.
  • On December 21, 2021, the Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth, and Sports.
Way forward
  • Raising the age of marriage for women must be accompanied by other initiatives that help prevent child marriage, like expanding access to education and enhancing women's safety.
  • According to a 2008 Law Commission recommendation on family law reform, boys and girls should be able to marry at the age of 18 rather than 21. According to this argument, since 18 is the legal voting age, marriage should also be permitted at that age.
  • The social system that best supports a woman's educational advancement equips her with a skill set that will raise her employability and strengthens her capacity for decision-making and should be the foundation for determining a woman's legal marriage age.

Source: The Hindu

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