Uniform age for marriage needed: National Human Rights Commission to Centre

At present, the legal marriageable age in India is 18 years for women and 21 years for men.

Published: 30th October 2018 02:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th October 2018 06:23 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the government to make the marriageable age for both men and women uniform, saying the move will go a long way in stopping child marriages in the country. The NHRC, however, has not specified what that age should be.

At present, the legal marriageable age in India is 18 years for women and 21 years for men. In a report submitted to the Union ministries of Law, Women and Child Development (WCD) and Education, NHRC has also made several other recommendations to stop child marriage, such as making free education mandatory for children up to the age of 18 years or until Class 12. 

At present, the government provides free education to children up to the age of 14 years or till he/she is in class 10.

The NHRC Secretary-General, Ambuj Sharma, said, “We have suggested that the marriageable age for both the genders be made the same. We submitted a report to the government on Friday and asked them to examine the aspect of keeping uniform the age for marriage for both men and women, as is the practice in about 125 countries in the world.”

Another important recommendation is for the appointment of child marriage prohibition officers for every village in the country.

“Some states like Karnataka are already doing this. They have around 50,000 child prohibition officers in Karnataka and other states should follow the recommendation,” said Sharma.  

Sources said that the idea behind these recommendations was to empower women and also remove certain loopholes in the current legal framework.

“The legal marriageable age for men and women were fixed decades ago. The idea behind keeping the age lesser for women was the belief that girls reach puberty earlier as compared to men and therefore, she becomes mature at an early age as compared to boys.

That logic does not hold much relevance in today’s modern context and needs to be reviewed,” said a source.

In 2008, the Law Commission had made a recommendation in favour of a uniform marriageable age for men and women. The law panel had recommended that the legal age for marriage for both sexes, cutting across religions, should be fixed at 18 years.

The thought process

The NHRC’s recommendations are based on two days of deliberations held during the National Conference of Child Marriage organized by it in collaboration with South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children on August 29th and 30th.

Various stakeholders, including ten states, legal experts, and non-governmental organisations took part in the conference.


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