In the 31-member parliamentary panel assigned to examine the bill, which seeks to raise the legal age of marriage for women to 21, MP Sushmita Dev is the only woman.
In the winter session, the Lok Sabha introduced The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, which will have wider influence over females, referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports.
The Women and Child Development Ministry have piloted the bill to increase the legal age of marriage from 18 to 21.
The parliamentary standing committee, led by the BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, has TMC MP Sushmita Dev as the only woman among the 31 members. Sushmita Dev said that it would have been better if more women MPs were in the panel. She said that she is the only female member in the Standing Committee who would be looking into the bill, but she will be trying her best to ensure that the Chairman of the Committee listens to every voice across the board.
She further added, “I do wish there were more women MPs but I must say that my leader, Mamata Banerjee, has done it and sent a woman MP to this committee which is going to be considering the bill and I am open to listening to anybody.”
The Department-Related Standing Committees are permanent, while joint and select committees are constituted from time to time to deal with bills and relevant subjects of various ministries. Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha form these panels.
Once enacted, the proposed law will apply to all communities. It will supersede existing marriage and personal laws.
WHAT DOES THE BILL AIM TO DO?
The bill pursues to increase the legal age of women’s marriage to 21, where the minimum age of marriage for women is 18. Jaya Jaitley from NITI Aayog recommended the proposal to increase the marriage age of women by the task force.
The other part of the task force were the secretaries of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Women and Child Development, Higher Education, School Education and Literacy Mission and the Ministry of Justice and Law. It was constituted in June 2020 and reported in December of the same year. The task force had said that women’s minimum age at the time of giving birth to their first child should be 21.
The Indian Christian Marriage Act, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act; the Muslim Personal Law Application Act (Shariat Law); the Special Marriage Act; the Hindu Marriage Act; and the Foreign Marriage Act are the other seven laws where the government will bring amendments, accordingly.
PRIYANKA CHATURVEDI’S DEMAND-
MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, from Shiv Sena, has written to the Rajya Sabha chairman, demanding a more comprehensive panel in the Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sport that tasked with reviewing the bill changing the legal marriage age for women.
“This is disheartening to note that a bill so pertinent to women and Indian society will be deliberated upon in a committee where the representation is highly skewed,” Chaturvedi wrote.