Advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Delhi High Court to abolish the concept of different minimum age for marriage of men and women. He attributed the petition as unscientific and called it a patriarchal stereotype.

The petitioner claims that more than 125 countries in the world have a uniform age for marriage of men and women. Countries like Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, etc have uniform ages for men and women.

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Discriminatory Minimum Age Limit For Marriage

“This petition, filed in public interest under Article 226, challenges a blatant, ongoing form of discrimination against women. That is the discriminatory minimum age for marriage for men and women in India. While men in India are permitted to get married at the age of 21, women are allowed to get married when they are 18. This distinction is based on patriarchal stereotypes, has no scientific backing, perpetrates de jure and de facto inequality against women, and goes completely against the global trends,” the petition reads.

“This differential bar discriminates against women, thus contravening the fundamental principles of gender equality, gender justice and dignity of women and breaches Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India,” it adds.

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Delhi High Court Seeks Centre’s Response

The Delhi High Court sought Centre’s stand on the plea on Monday. A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar also issued a notice to the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Law Commission of India on a PIL alleging that the “distinction is based on patriarchal stereotypes and has no scientific backing.” The bench has asked the government to file their affidavit by October 30, which is the next date of hearing.

“I feel equality should come at all fronts. If men and women are matching footsteps in every field, why to differentiate between them when it comes to marriage I feel that the minimum age for girls should be increased to 21 so that they can focus on their career. This will also help them in obtaining at least a Bachelor’s degree, and pursue their dreams thereafter.” says Komal Tripathi, student of Government Central Textile Institute, Kanpur.

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More Than 125 Countries Across The World Have Uniform Age For Marriage

The petitioner claims that more than 125 countries in the world have the same minimum age for marriage for men and women. Countries like Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, etc have a same minimum age for marriage of men and women. According to a report by The Independent, child marriage is still widely prevalent in India despite the laws. The minimum age for tying a knot differs for men and women, being 18 for women and 21 for men. Globally, the average age for marrying is 17 for men and 16 for women. However, in many countries, girls are allowed to marry at a much younger age. Several places, including the state of Massachusetts in the United States, allow girls as young as 12 to get married in “exceptional circumstances” with the consent of a judge.

This differential bar discriminates against women, thus contravening the fundamental principles of gender equality, gender justice and dignity of women and breaches Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India

The judiciary of India has a setback when it comes to legislation pertaining to child marriage or marriage below the legal age. In such cases, the minor has to file a complaint and hence, many such cases go unreported. If the minor reports, the marriage is annulled.

Picture Credit: MyAdvo.in

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