IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Raising the age of marriage

17th December, 2021 Society

Figure 3: No Copyright Infringement Intended


  • The Centre has decided to raise the legal age of marriage of women from 18 to 21 years.
  • The proposed Bill may also contain amendments to various personal laws relating to marriage of various communities to ensure a uniform age of marriage.


Need for it:

  • Early marriage has detrimental effect it has on the health and growth of the baby as well as the health of the mother.
  • Scientific studies have shown that children born to adolescent mothers (10-19 years) were more likely to be stunted (shorter for their age) than those born to young adults (20-24 years), and adult mothers.
  • Increasing age at first marriage, age at first birth, can be a promising approach to improve maternal and child nutrition.
  • Will lead to gender empowerment as more girls will opt into higher education
  • Democratisation of the family as an adult female member would have greater say in working of the family
  • Act as catalyst in population control as adult member won’t go for higher no of children.


Counter arguments:

  • The National Coalition Advocating for Adolescent Concerns has asserted that increasing the legal age of marriage for girls will only expand the number of married persons deemed underage and criminalise them and may render underage married girls without legal protection.
  • There are also arguments that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 instead of curbing child marriages, has only played as a weapon in the hands of parents to punish their daughters for elopement and is used in conjunction with other laws to punish boys in self-arranged marriages.
  • The reasons for early marriage vary across the country. The issue of poor nutritional status in teenage mothers is also due to poverty and lack of safety driving early marriage in girls.
  • Some have argued that lack of proper education, poor economic status among teenage mothers also contribute to poor nutritional outcomes for the mother and child and emphasize the need to act on these factors first before lowering the marriage age.
  • the implementation of the child marriage law is very hard so there is no basis for increasing the age of marriage of women to 21. 

Way forward:

Focus on empowerment:

  • Work towards empowering the girls by ensuring education, ensuring economic and social empowerment of women and girls.
  • Increase girls’ access to education and health, create enabling opportunities for economic independence of the girls, which will result in empowerment of the girls.