Raising the minimum age of marriage for women is welcome, but...

Legislation alone may not be effective when social practices are deep-rooted; awareness and dialogue are needed too

Saksham Misra | December 17, 2021


#Law   #society   #marriage   #union cabinet   #the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act  
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. The proposal seeks to increase the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21, bringing it at par with men. I welcome this proposal as a progressive move towards empowering women and strengthen the tenets of gender equality. But I have a fundamental concern with regards to the efficacy of the proposed amendment. By ‘efficacy’ I mean how effectively this amendment can bring the social changes in society and yield the desired outcomes for which it is proposed. This concern of efficacy is more pertinent in the context of personal laws because it pokes into our family affairs.

I argue that the efficacy of personal laws or any progressive legislation, which aims to bring about structural changes in society, highly depends on its ‘legitimacy’ and not purely on its content. The legitimacy of a law can be measured from its social acceptance – how smoothly society accepts the changes which the proposed legislation is bringing. If the changes are too radical, then it becomes difficult for a legislation to gain social acceptance.

Let me exemplify my argument. The recently repealed farm laws are a classic example of how a legislation aiming for making structural changes in the agriculture sector failed due to lack of social acceptance (legitimacy) by the farmers community. We need to learn from the farm laws episode that for bringing in structural changes in society through a legislation, we need to first do the groundwork of creating its social acceptance. This groundwork will develop social consensus for the changes which the law will bring.  

Therefore, I am raising the concern of efficacy, as to how efficiently the proposed amendment related to the minimum age of marriage for women will gain social acceptance. This is a seminal issue in the context of rural India where child marriage is still deep-rooted. I doubt whether the rural and suburban India will accept the increase in the age of marriage, or would rather continue with their existing social practices. To put it more clearly, whether the said amendment will be socially accepted or it will remain on paper? This concern is relevant because we have a law in force which prohibits the child marriage but still we can see that the practice of child marriage is widespread.

I strongly believe that apart from taking legislative steps, the policymakers must create awareness and dialogue within society. The problems like child marriage cannot be resolved just by passing laws and penalising offences. Social problems like child marriage are deep-rooted and mostly they are intermixed with cultural or religious beliefs of society. They can be resolved by creating social awareness and initiating dialogue. This does not mean that I am rejecting the role of legislation in resolving social problems; rather I am suggesting that both legal and non-legal measures must be used to resolve social problems.

Misra is Assistant Professor, Indore Institute of Law (IIL).

Comments

 

Other News

How the Great War of Mahabharata was actually a world war

Mahabharata: A World War By Gaurang Damani Sanganak Prakashan, 317 pages, Rs 300 Gaurang Damani, a Mumbai-based el

Budget expectations, from job creation to tax reforms…

With the return of the NDA to power in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, all eyes are now on finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s full budget for the FY 2024-25. The interim budget presented in February was a typical vote-on-accounts, allowing the outgoing government to manage expenses in

How to transform rural landscapes, design 5G intelligent villages

Futuristic technologies such as 5G are already here. While urban users are reaping their benefits, these technologies also have a potential to transform rural areas. How to unleash that potential is the question. That was the focus of a workshop – “Transforming Rural Landscape:

PM Modi visits Rosatom Pavilion at VDNKh in Moscow

Prime minister Narendra Modi, accompanied by president Vladimir Putin, visited the All Russian Exhibition Centre, VDNKh, in Moscow Tuesday. The two leaders toured the Rosatom Pavilion at VDNKh. The Rosatom pavilion, inaugurated in November 2023, is one of the largest exhibitions on the histo

Let us pledge to do what we can for environment: President

President Droupadi Murmu on Monday morning spent some time at the sea beach of the holy city of Puri, a day after participating in the annual Rath Yatra. Later she penned her thoughts about the experience of being in close commune with nature. In a message posted on X, she said:

PM leaves for Russia, Austria

All eyes are on the Narendra Modi-Vladimir Putin meeting, as the prime minister left Monday for an official visit of Russia as also of Austria. In the ‘departure statement, the PM said, “I am embarking on an official visit to the Russian Federation for the 22nd Annual Summit and

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter