HYDERABAD: What were you doing when you were 18? What is your state of mind if you are 18 currently?
An average 18-year-old would be imitating trending pop culture stars, exploring his or her self, mentally dating a celebrity, or trying to figure out the next career move.
If you fall in the lucky group, then you could have found the love of your life – or so you think. But, are you thinking of tying the knot with the loved one already?
If you are, then can celebrate. The National Law Commission, advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice wants the legal marriageable age for boys to be lowered from 21 to 18. For girls, it has been 18 for a while now.
While it may sound like a blessing for a few, psychologist S Jayanti, Roshni Counselling Centre, Begumpet says it is not right as young boys and girls are set out to explore themselves around that age. “They are starting to have fun. They are at the age where they make mistakes. It is definitely not advisable,” she explains.
Rishab Kumar who turned 18 only a week ago says he doesn’t agree with this amendment. “I want to experience life,” he says. Ask him when he thinks is a good time to get married and he responds quickly, “Definitely after 25. I presume that I will be independent in every aspect -- financially and emotionally.”
His mother, Sudha Mai agrees with him. “Family and marriage require an individual to develop a different outlook towards life and that comes with time and experience,” she says and adds, “Saying, a particular age is right or not for marriage doesn’t quite work.”
Jetta Arundhati’s echoes Sudha’s opinion. The mother of two daughters points out that, boy or girl, 18 is definitely not the right time. “They lack the mental maturity. Financial independence is also important and all of this varies according to the individual,” she opines.
Is it a joke?
Her 24-year-old daughter Jetta Deekshitha says the law doesn’t make sense at all.
“I think they are making a joke out of marriage. I understand that this is not a compulsion for youngsters, but saying 18 is acceptable age for marriage is not right. It is like giving a bunch of school children the choice to get married,” she says.
She also points that the “sanctity” surrounding marriages in India is also being contradicted because of this law. “Loyalty and commitment make or break marriages. But this comes only with age and experience that you will not be able to comprehend at the age of 18. I couldn’t,” she explains. The Law Commission opines that there is no scientific reason for boys and girls to have a different marriageable age. But Deekshitha argues, “Even if you think of it as a move to promote gender equality, it doesn’t make sense. On the contrary, I feel the legal age for girls should have raised to 21 years.”
We are changing
Psychologist Jayanti also begs to differ with this aspect of the law. She says, “We are all brought up in a certain way and our conditioning is such that women can adapt and address their needs in all kinds of situations.” She points to the number of cases where women have made a career after marriage. “But can men at the age of 18, start a family, nurture it and also be the breadwinner? I don’t think they are equipped, yet,” she opines and also explains how men and women’s idea of life on the whole is changing. “What they are looking for in a partner has become more diverse,” she observes.
Anuradha Kanrati, a 27-year-old is one such example. She recalls the time when she was 18 and says the kind of person she was back then is a lot different than who she is right now. “If I had got married then, both of us would have been miserable right now,” she laughs. On a serious note, she expresses, “We are finicky at that age. For me, I need to understand myself in order to be able to understand another person’s needs. At this age, I have figured out 80 per cent of myself and I know what I want from my partner. We are changing in terms with what and how much we want constantly and 18, definitely is too soon – boy, girl or anyone.”
But may be this is limited to urban spaces? Jayanti disagrees. “Even in rural areas more women and men want to make a career, fulfil sibling responsibilities. Not everyone want to get married you know,” she quips.