Should Girls’ Legal Age Of Marriage Be Upped From 18 To 21?

Second Panel at Rethink

The topic of a girl’s marriage in Indian society holds a lot of significance. The fact that she will get married and go to someone else’s home is reiterated since childhood. The Indian government mandates that the minimum age for a girl to get married is 18 years. But what are the factors taken into consideration while deciding the legal age for getting married? And what if the legal age gets increased to 21? Or should we really have a legal age for getting married? The second panel at #RETHINK in Patna delved into these questions.

Dr Urvashi Kaushik, social policy specialist, UNICEF, highlighted that in the US, there is no minimum age bar but still they successfully managed to delay the marriageable age by their own will.

Vandita Morarka of One Future Collective said, “There is no rationale behind the difference in legal age of marriage for girls and boys in India. You hear statements that girls mature early but the point is, that right from childhood, girls are taught that they have to be more mature.”

She also said that one needs to rethink the idea of marriage as necessary.

“Why are girls forced to think that marriage is the final goal of her life? And why is she doomed to failure if she doesn’t reach that goal?” – Vandita Morarka

Ankita Surbhi of Shakti Vahini said that a girl’s body is often treated as a vessel which holds the honour of families and communities.

Dr Leena Sushant mentioned how girls are always taught to behave in a certain way and that bringing changes at different levels can solve the problem. “Girls must aspire to follow their dreams. We need to work collectively to bring about a social change”

“Girls are often taught to respect people who are older than them. But why aren’t we taught to respect people who are younger to us? And why should the husband’s age be more than the wife? That’s why we must question the institution of marriage itself,” said Apurva Vivek of Koshish.

The panel came to a consensus that age shouldn’t really be the factor to be considered while planning a girl’s marriage. In fact, the choice of getting or not getting married should also rest with girls.

Also Read: 27% Of Indian Kids Married Before 18: UN Report