During his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said to have formed a committee to ensure that the daughters are no longer suffering from malnutrition and they are married off at the right age.
Reports suggest the minimum age of marriage for girls may be raised from 18 at present to 21. Appropriate decisions will be taken about the age of marriage after a report is submitted.
Data show that the majority of women in India marry after the age of 21. The mean age of women at marriage is 22.1 years, and more than 21 in all states.
This does not mean that child marriages have disappeared. The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) found that about 26.8% of women aged 20-24 were married before adulthood (age 18).
Preventing early marriage can reduce the maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality ratio. At present, the maternal mortality ratio is 145. India’s infant mortality ratio shows that 30 of every 1,000 children born in a year die before the age of one.
Young mothers are more susceptible to anaemia. More than half the women of reproductive age (15-49 years) in India are anaemic. The prevalence of anaemia among women has consistently been high over the last 20 years.
Poverty, limited access to education and economic prospects, and security concerns are the known reasons for early marriage. If the main causes of early marriage are not addressed, a law will not be enough to delay marriage among girls.
The average age at marriage of women with no schooling was 17.6, considerably lower than that for women educated beyond class 12. Almost 40% of girls aged 15-18 do not attend school.
Women in the poorest 20% of the population married much younger than their peers from the wealthiest 20%.