Marriage age bill: Lok Sabha MPs oppose move, bill sent to standing committeetext_fields
Opposition aims raised criticism over what they termed was a 'hurried' move to introduce a bill to raise the marriage age of women to 21, claiming that none of the stakeholders affected by the bill were consulted and that an independent committee should review the bill before it was tabled.
As such, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani on Tuesday said the government recommended the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, in the Lok Sabha be sent to a standing committee for review. She did however criticise the Opposition for 'standing in the way' of women empowerment as she claimed the bill was aimed at giving women the "right to equality" in marriage.
"This amendment gives equality to men and women in allowing both to marry at 21. Our research shows that 21 lakh child marriages had to be stopped and many underage girls were found pregnant. So you are stopping women from their right to equality," Irani said.
Congress' Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Gaurav Gogoi, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, Trinamool Congress' Saugata Roy were some of the Opposition MPs in the Lok Sabha who raised their objections to the bill.
Stating that this is the second or third time that the government is aggressively bringing in a bill without consulting the opposition, NCP MP Supriya Sule the former is not even sticking to the business advisory council.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader and Telangana MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi said that the bill went against fundamental rights. "An 18-year-old can vote, but cannot get married? What is your 'beti bachao programme' about?" the MLA asked.
The bill has evoked mixed reactions from the public and women empowerment organisations with some suggesting that other measures could be taken to tackle child marriages while others say the bill infringes on the rights of adult women to determine their own marriage. While the government plans to bring the Bill and pass it in this session, the move could be stalled, given there are four days left in the current session and both houses are deadlocked over the suspension of 12 opposition MPs and demands for the sacking of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni.