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The archaic perspective that are put forward by the Indian people in respect to the terms of equality in marriage is absolutely not a reflection of our everyday society. How charged and opinionated are Indian people when it comes to correct age for marriage!
Given a choice, there will be hardly any Indian girl who would prefer to get married at the age of eighteen.  On one hand, we talk about gender equality while on the other hand, we constantly need to remind ourselves that are we actually having gender equality in our society! For equality in true sense, Indian law that recognizes different ages of marriage between consenting adults should be reformed.
In a country like India, where we are eagerly removing every stereotype that comes our way; why are we still contributing to the stereotype that wives should be younger than their husbands? If we talk about the ideal age for getting married, the first thing that clicks in our mind is that why our constitution under Special Marriage Act, 1954, states that 18 years and 21 years as the legal minimum age for women and men respectively? Well, this question will keep on arising to the adults of 21st Century because we truly believe in democracy and justice. Keeping aside the sentiments related to sexuality, importance of child bearing and traditional gender roles; we also need to put the light on the fact that women are also playing an important role in their workplace and we no more hold the notion that a man should be monetarily ready for marriage while a woman should merely be adult to get married. Democracy and justice in its purest form will only reach us when we are eligible to choose our life partner at the correct age without any gender biasness.
While we expect a man to be educated and financially stable before getting married, why do we want a woman to be uprooted from one family to be with another when she has barely tasted the compulsions of single adult life? May be its because we cannot ask an 18 year old male how much does he earn?. So we need to give him three more years for graduation at least. But we can ask an 18 year old girl can she cook? We put so much stress on women empowerment; and the government itself deprives women to be empowered financially before marriage by depriving them of a basic law of having equality for correct age for marriage.
According to UNICEF, 47% of girls are married by 18 years of age, and 18% are married by 15 years of age. Most of these marriages are performed without the consent of the girls involved in the marriage. A marriage is a lifelong commitment and neither a girl nor a boy has enough maturity to tie the knot at the age of 18.
Instead of blaming poverty, unemployment, health issues, starvation, depletion of natural resources, etc. for the increasing population; changes should be made in the law by not only increasing the minimum age for marriage but also by making it equal for both boys and girls. There has been a prolonged period of ignorance, customs, traditions, beliefs and gender differences. Its time to revise the Constitutional Act to meet the changing social conditions in the Indian diaspora.
          ----- NAMRAMITA  BANERJEE

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