Legislation alone may not be effective when social practices are deep-rooted; awareness and dialogue are needed too
Saksham Misra | December 17, 2021
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 The recently repealed farm laws are a classic example of how a legislation aiming for making structural changes in the agriculture sector failed due to lack of social acceptance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).
Cycling is a passion for many, and it is a way to fitness too. With rising numbers of vehicles on the road, the government encourages this environment-friendly mode of transportation, but it comes with numerous challenges. An accident last month on the Mahipalpur flyover of south Delhi, which took the life
As the post-pandemic fallout and geopolitical uncertainty slows down global economies and sanctions against some nations, energy crisis and inflation are adding to the troubles, India is projected to be decoupled from world economy and fare better. To check if this belief really holds water, in the latest
With the advent of globalization came a new set of challenges for corporations, notably the duty of ensuring the well-being of all stakeholders while also protecting the planet`s natural environment. Although we are dedicated to a faster and more inclusive rate of growth, it is equally imperative that we f
BMC commissioner and administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal has been conferred with a Honorary Doctor of Science Degree (honoris causa) by Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, Punjab. Chahal was conferred the degree during the 48th convocation of the University in Amritsar at the hands of Punjab
Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) aims to use a two-track approach on environmental social and corporate governance (ESG). Addressing a conference on ‘ESG for Atmanirbhar Bharat` in Mumbai, Sebi chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch said that that there should not be a single carbo
Presenting authentic information is the prime responsibility of media and that facts should be properly checked before they are put in the public domain, union minister of information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur has said. “While speed with which the information is transmitted is imp