‘Need to have uniform legal marriage age for both genders’

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New Delhi: The legal age for marriage should be the same for both genders, a member of National Human Rights Commission said today.

Speakers at the ‘National Conference on Child Marriage’, which was organised by NHRC in collaboration with South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC), stressed on the need for stringent laws to end the menace of underage marriage.

Speaking at the two-day conference, NHRC member Jyotika Kalra said a law needs to be instituted to make the legal age for marriage uniform, which is in line with the expressions made at the highest levels, including the Supreme Court and Law Commission of India.

“It (legal age for marriage) should not be 21 years for boys and 18 years for girls as there is no scientific data to support this difference. This inconsistency is impacting children and their marriages,” she explained.

Kalra said registration of marriages should be made compulsory. The Supreme Court as well as the Law Commission have already pointed this out, but it is not clear whether all the states have put in place necessary provisions, she added.

She explained that child marriages in India are linked with socio-economic factors, particularly lack of literacy.

Ambuj Sharma, secretary general of NHRC, said it is a matter of shame that the rate of child marriage is very high in India. Sharma added that the national average of child marriage for females is down from 47.4 per cent to 26.8 per cent and for males from 32.3 per cent to 20.3 per cent. PTI