New Delhi: There is only one woman parliamentarian out of 31 members of the Parliament’s committee tasked with investigating the landmark bill that proposes to raise the legal age of marriage for young women to 21 years.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill will have a massive impact on the society, especially women. The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the winter session of Parliament and was referred to the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports.
In this bill brought by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, there is a proposal to increase the legal age of marriage from 18 to 21.
The list of members of the Standing Committee of Parliament headed by senior BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe is available on the Rajya Sabha website. According to this, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Sushmita Dev is the only woman among 31 members of the committee.
When contacted, Dev said that it would have been better if there were more women MPs in the committee. God said, ‘I wish! There would have been more women MPs in the committee, but we will ensure that all stakeholder groups are heard.
Expressing similar sentiments, NCP MP Supriya Sule, who has taken up women-centric issues in Parliament, said there should be more women MPs in the committee, which will deliberate on issues related to women.
However, the chairman has the right to invite individuals to the committee, he added. So he can invite other women MPs for a more inclusive and comprehensive discussion, he said.
The Department-related Standing Committees are permanent, whereas Joint and Select Committees are constituted from time to time for Bills and related subjects of various Ministries. These committees are constituted by both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
Parliament’s Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports is a committee administered by the Rajya Sabha. The parties nominate the members on the basis of the strength of their members in the House.
The proposed law will be applicable to all communities in the country and once implemented, it will replace the existing marriage and ‘personal law’.
The legal age of marriage for women is being raised by the Center on the recommendations of a task force headed by former Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitley Committee constituted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in June 2020.
The introduction of the bill was opposed by some members and demanded that it be sent to a committee of Parliament for further scrutiny. The bill seeks to raise the legal age for marriage of girls to 21 years, as is the case for men.
According to news agency PTI, the proposed bill has already become controversial, as several lawmakers have termed the bill as a violation of several personal laws, as the bill will amend seven personal laws, including the Indian Christian Marriage Act, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, Special Marriage Act, Hindu Marriage Act and Foreign Marriage Act are included.
Jaya Jaitley, former chief of Samata Party, had said about these recommendations, ‘If we talk about gender equality and gender empowerment in every field, then we cannot leave marriage, because it is a very strange message that A girl may be fit for marriage at the age of 18, which reduces her chances of going to college, whereas men have up to 21 years to prepare for life and earning.
Jaitley had said that the task force had submitted its recommendations to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development and NITI Aayog in December last year.
The committee included NITI Aayog member (health) VK Paul, educationists Najma Akhtar, Vasudha Kamat and Deepti Shah, besides secretaries of higher education, school education, health, women and child development, legislative departments, etc.
According to the report, if the bill is passed by Parliament, the amended minimum age for women will be amended in other laws including the 1954 Special Marriage Act, 1955 Hindu Marriage Act, 1872 Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1936 Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. May need it.
Along with this, the laws of inheritance, maintenance and divorce may also need to be amended.
(with input from news agency language)
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