Bhopal: The Union cabinet decision to increase the age bar for girls’ marriage from 18 to 21 has met with mixed reactions from Bhopalites. Free Press talked to them to know their views. Excerpts:
The age bar for marriage of girls, sadly, took its own time to get approval from the government. But now that the decision has been taken, it is a good and necessary move. Being a health counsellor, I come across cases where girls are married underage and they are forced to indulge in sexual relationship. They are neither physically nor mentally ready for it, which affects the baby that mostly is delivered preterm. Many a time, the foetus dies in the womb. Most early divorce cases come from early marriages, as the couple begins to gain maturity and realise the tension between them.
Neeta Papsule, women’s health activist and counsellor
We receive several cases where young marriages are on the verge of failure. It’s mostly because the girl is not mature enough to handle a responsibility as huge as running a household. Girls at 18 are teenagers with varying moods. They do not have mental maturity to understand the institution of marriage. Earlier, young marriage might work as situations were different. But now girls need to be educated and be able to fend for themselves. Even if we talk about the village girls who do not get opportunity to study and work freely, their families will at least fear the law, which will keep the young girls safe from an early marriage.
Sindhu Dhaulpure, counsellor, women and child dept
The decision should have been taken a long back. Yet, good sense has prevailed though late. This is the real beginning of equality between the genders. People used to give excuses like girls attain maturity earlier than boys to justify the age gap. But now, both men and women will be given responsibilities at same age, without discrimination or excuses as lame as attaining maturity. Implementation, however, is a huge challenge. When the age bar was 18, girls got married at 15 and 16 in villages. Social workers have more responsibility to bring a change in mindset of people.
Asma Khan, social worker
It is good decision by the government as it will provide better opportunity for education after increasing marriage age from 18 years to 21 years for girls. It is good for gender equality in the country. Both boys and girls should get equal opportunity in country. So, from this point of view, it is a good decision taken by central government.
Dr Ruma Bhattacharya, psychiatrist
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