• Saturday, June 25, 2022

INDIA

India: Panel to examine women marriage bill has only one woman member

Sushmita Dev, the only Indian woman parliamentarian present in the parliamentary panel which will examine a landmark bill that seeks to increase the legal age of marriage for women to 21 years. (ANI Photo/ SansadTV)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE parliamentary panel in India which has been assigned to examine the landmark bill, which seeks to increase the legal age of marriage for women to 21 years, has only one woman member of parliament (MP) out of 31 members.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, which will have a big social influence, especially for the women, was introduced in the Lok Sabha or the lower house of the Indian parliament during the winter session recently and referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports.

The legislation, which is piloted by the country’s women and child development ministry, aims to raise the legal marriage age of women from 18 to 21 years.

According to the members’ list of the parliamentary standing committee which is led by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe (member of the Rajya Sabha or upper house from the state of Maharashtra), Sushmita Dev is the only woman member among 31 members.

When the Press Trust of India contacted Dev, a Rajya Sabha member from the state of Assam representing the Trinamool Congress party, she said it would have been better had there been more women parliamentarians on the panel.

“I wish there were more women MPs in the committee but having said that we will make sure all interest groups are heard,” Dev, daughter of late Indian National Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev, told PTI.

Echoing her sentiments, Nationalist Congress Party’s member of parliament Supriya Sule, who has been raising women-centric issues in parliament, said there should have been more women MPs on the panel which will deliberate on issues related to women.
She said that the chairman of the body has power to invite people before the panel to ensure wider discussions, he can invite other women MPs.

The legal age of marriage for women is being increased by the Narendra Modi government based on recommendations made by the Jaya Jaitly Committee that was set up by the women and child ministry in June 2020.

The introduction of the bill was opposed by some members who claimed that it infringed upon several personal laws in violation of the fundamental rights and sought that it should be referred to a parliamentary panel for greater scrutiny.

The bill wants to increase the legal age of marriage for women to 21 years, the same as men.

It seeks to amend seven personal laws, such as, 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.

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