A day after the union cabinet approved the proposal to increase the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years, two Samajwadi Party leaders have come under criticism for expressing regressive views while opposing the move. While one linked marriage with fertility in women, the other appears to be justifying early marriage because of poverty in the country. Party chief Akhilesh Yadav rushed to distance himself from these comments.
Girls should be married when they attain the age of fertility, said Samajwadi Party MP Syed Tufail Hasan. Speaking to news agency ANI, Mr Hasan said, “The fertility age of women ranges from 16-17 years to 30 years. Proposals for marriage start coming at the age of 16. If the marriage is delayed, there are two disadvantages: One is the possibility of infertility. The second is that children are not settled when one is ageing. When you are in your last decade or so of life, your children are still students. We are breaking the natural cycle.”
“I believe that when a girl is mature and attains the age of fertility, she should get married. If a girl is mature at 16, she can get married at 16. If she can vote at 18, why can’t she get married?” he added.
#WATCH | Girls should be married when they attain age of fertility. There is nothing wrong if a mature girl is married at 16. If she can vote at age of 18, why can’t she marry?: Samajwadi Party MP ST Hasan on Govt’s decision to raise legal age of marriage for women to 21 years pic.twitter.com/UZxHrMcjrh
— ANI (@ANI) December 17, 2021
Expressing a similar view on this issue, Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rahman Barq said, “India a poor country and everybody wants to marry off their daughter at an early age… I will not support this Bill in Parliament.”
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav later distanced himself from such comments, stressing that his party is progressive and has launched several schemes for the welfare and development of women and girls. “Samajwadi Party has nothing to do with any such statements,” he said.
Prime Minister Modi, during his Independence Day speech last year, had made a mention of the proposal.
“This government is constantly concerned about the health of daughters and sisters. To save the daughters from malnutrition, it is necessary that they’re married at the right age,” the Prime Minister had said.
The minimum age of marriage for men right now is 21 but for women, it is 18.
While the two men expressed their reservations, the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan has welcomed the move. “This is a good decision. This will give a chance to the girls to study more. They will be able to enjoy their independence. They will also get better employment opportunities,” she told NDTV.