Only 1 Woman Member In Panel That Will Examine Bill To Raise Legal Marriage Age

New Delhi: Trinamool MP Sushmita Dev is the only woman member of the parliamentary panel that will examine the Prohibition on Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill seeking to increase the age of legal marriage of women from 18 to 21 years. During the winter session of Parliament, the bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union minister Smriti Irani. Then it was sent to the 31-member committee for examination. According to the members’ list of the parliamentary standing committee, led by senior BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, available on the Rajya Sabha website, Sushmita Dev is the only woman among the 31 members.

“I wish there were more women MPs in the committee but having said that we will make sure all interest groups are heard,” the MP told PTI.

NCP MP Supriya Sule said the chairman of the panel has the power to invite other women MPs for a more inclusive and wider discussion.

The proposed bill has already become controversial with several MPs terming the bill as an infringement on several personal laws as the bill will amend seven personal laws — the Indian Christian Marriage Act; the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act; the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act; the Special Marriage Act; the Hindu Marriage Act; and the Foreign Marriage Act.

“Equality of women in our country needs to be seen in [terms of] age of marriage. Invoking marriage laws of different faiths, I rise to introduce the amendment bill. This amendment gives equality to men and women in allowing both to marry at 21. Our research shows that 2.1 million child marriages had to be stopped and many underage girls were found pregnant. So you are stopping right to equality,” Smriti Irani had said.

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