The draft law on the age of marriage is deeply political. After the amendment of the Muslim Divorce Law, the government raised the minimum age for marriage. In fact, it systematically hijacks the personal laws of communities, evolving into a unified civil code (UCC) without promulgating one. According to the Bill`s Statement of Objectives and Reasons (SOR), raising the age of marriage will contribute to a variety of goals, including improving maternal and infant mortality (IMR and MMR), nutritional levels, gender balance at birth (SRB), women`s participation in the labour market, and gender equality. and will lead to women`s empowerment. The Modi government has advocated the holistic and healthy development of young women. Raising the age of marriage for women to 21 was intended to prevent teenage pregnancies and thus protect women`s health. While the goals of the above law are laudable and this should be our end goal, the minimum age of marriage should be 21, as this is what educated progressives are now pursuing. Boys and girls who are employed or financially independent do not consent to early marriage. They live their lives on their own terms and some of them test the waters by opting for life relationships before taking the plunge. But what about the majority of our inhabitants who remain in the villages, have no education or no decision-making capacity? There are a large number of people who blindly follow the usual practices, who hesitate to accept girls as equal to boys, who see girls as a burden – to be rid of as soon as possible – female foeticide, infanticide or early marriage.
Another aspect that must be taken into account here is that economic prosperity is not a measure of social development. The bill raises the minimum age of marriage for women to 21 and puts it on an equal footing with that of men. However, the age of majority is 18 under the Majority Act of 1875. This difference may affect the rights and obligations of persons between the ages of 18 and 21. „What we have said is that even when the age of marriage was first set at 16 and then raised to 18 in 1978, it was not that Muslim personal law was changed, but they remained silent. However, we understand that Muslims automatically followed the new law, even though no changes were made. The Muslim age of marriage is not low. There is also a Supreme Court ruling that, in the event of a dispute between a constitutional law and a personal affairs law, constitutional law prevails. Our intention is not to harm Muslims, but just like triple talaq, when a law contradicts the constitution, the country`s constitution must prevail,” Jaitly told The Indian Express.
The minimum age of marriage for women has been 18 since 1978. However, according to NFHS-5 (2019-21), the prevalence of early marriage remains high, with 23% of women aged 20 to 24 married before the age of 18. At the same time, the detection of these marriages remains low, with only 785 legally recorded cases in 2020.  This shows that there has been little success in addressing marriage among girls under 18. This raises the question of whether raising the minimum age would have a significant impact on reducing child marriage. „I would like to argue that women`s equality in our country must be seen at the age of marriage. Citing different marriage laws of different faiths, I am taking the floor to introduce the amending law,” Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani told parliament. However, she is not alone, in India, thousands of people are forced to marry at an early age. Sometimes violently, against their will, apparently to ward off bad influences or not to miss the opportunity to get a „perfect” game.
The 1962 Convention on the Punishment of Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages (a treaty drafted by the United Nations) establishes by law a minimum age for marriage to override customary, religious and tribal laws and traditions and to ensure compulsory registration of marriages. India is not a signatory to the aforementioned convention, but we have signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, „which mentions the elimination of child marriage” and also talks about uniformity of the age of marriage for men and women. In our country, the minimum age of marriage for boys is 21. 20. In December 2021, the Lok Sabha introduced the Child Marriage Prohibition (Amendment) Act 2021. The bill argues that the „highly harmful practice of child marriage” will continue despite the Child Marriage Prohibition Act 2006 (PCMA). It is therefore „urgent to tackle this social problem and introduce reforms”. It proposes raising the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 21. In addition, the law has a primary effect on conflicting provisions of personal law. Raising the age of marriage, according to the government, is the key to gender equality and justice.
There is concern about how the law affects poor and marginalized groups. Application across religions paves the way for a debate about the limits of individual rights. „Marriage as an institution is not an old age situation, but was built on many other things, including economic models, fear of violence against young girls, early pregnancy, sex, many of these things affect marriage but not age,” says Prabhleen Tuteja. Different ages for rejection and annulment of Hindu marriages At present, the bill to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 has been referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament. However, the country still has a long way to go before Indian women manage to be on an equal footing with men, regardless of caste, creed, religion and socio-economic status. In response to the criticism, Irani said: „We are 75 years too late when it comes to giving men and women the same right to marry. In the 19th century, the marriageable age for women was 10 years. In 1940, it was increased to 12-14 years. In 1978, women over the age of 15 married. For the first time, this law allows men and women to decide on their marriage, taking into account the right to equality. According to the 2019-21 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), 23% of women aged 20 to 24 were married before the age of 18.
 This number has decreased significantly over the years, from 47% in NFHS-3 (2005-06) to 27% in NFHS-4 (2015-16) and 23% in the latest survey. , In India, the practice of child marriage was first banned in 1929 by the Child Marriage Restriction Act of 1929. The 1929 Act prohibits the marriage of girls under the age of 14 and boys under the age of 18. This law was amended in 1978 to raise the minimum age to 18 for women and 21 for men. The Child Marriage Prohibition Act 2006 replaced the 1929 law with the same minimum age limits. The Child Marriage Prohibition (Amendment) Bill 2021 aims to raise the minimum age of marriage for women to 21. The bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sport on December 21, 2021. According to experts, many girls decide to marry early to get rid of abusive homes where they are seen as a burden and need to be married. They see marriage as an option for freedom. However, the implementation of this law could be a game changer.
Irani said 23 percent of girls under 18 were married, although a law prohibits it. Around 2 million cases of child marriage were arrested in 2015-2020, she said. Figures from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) show that 7% of women aged 15 to 18 were pregnant. „The in-laws might say that the government has already extended the age of marriage and now you need another year to complete your education. Therefore, the problem of marital pressure will remain the same regardless of the age of the family, and the case for improving gender equality through the new change remains hollow,” Tuteja said. . The Working Group on the Age of Marriage for Women „submitted a report to the PMO”, The Hindu, January 18, 2021. In New Zealand, however, the age of marriage is 20 for both men and women. In Singapore, persons under the age of 21 who wish to marry must obtain parental consent, and those under the age of 18 also require a special licence issued by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
„You shouldn`t tackle a problem immediately by law. You need to understand the fundamental social problem. Girls must have equal opportunities in health, education and life. Including more women in the workforce, such as South Korea and Japan, can also help reduce gender imbalance and address issues related to early marriage,” said Vinoj Manning. So why did the Modi government act to raise the legal age of marriage for women? Data on the maternal mortality rate and the infant mortality rate show that both indicators have improved in the country. The national maternal mortality rate was 113 per lakh of live births in 2016-2018, an 80% decrease from the 1990 maternal mortality ratio (556).  The infant mortality rate decreased by 69%, from 114 in 1990 to 35 per 1,000 births in 2019-21.1 In March 2021, the Minister of Women and Child Development responded to a question from Lok Sabha that there was no credible data to suggest that child marriage was the leading cause of IMR and MMR.  Various factors that influence motherhood, such as health, nutrition, and lack of medical facilities, can contribute to IMT and MMR problems.