January 6, 2020, The Liberacy:- Increase in Marriageable Age in India is not much of a hot boiling topic in past years till now but, does India need to rethink its marriageable age policy?
Answer to that would be a big YES.
Let us see today a detailed inspection of the issue, covering its aspect through Child Marriage, Education, Fertility Rate, Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Rate, and Population Control.
India and the UN define the youth under a marriageable age of 18 for females and 21 for males. That means any person marrying under this age limit is put in the category of “Child Marriage”.
According to a UNICEF report, child marriage in India was 47% in 1998, and the UN estimated it to be 30% in 2005. The Census of India since 1981 has shown a down-graph in the child marriage rates. Currently, the 2015-16 survey shows a further decline of Child Marriage in India, which halts at a mere 27%.
This early marriage, because of whatever conditions, has a variety of impacts on the socio-economic structure of the country.
Increase in Marriageable Age may push the boundary limit furthermore beyond, and that may actually stop at the desired limit of Marriage at 18 for females and 21 for males. Especially for the females, to whom it affects the worst. Further ahead, we will be talking more about the problems related to women.
Early Marriage, takes away the opportunity of a girl child to seek Education. Thus, an increase in marriageable age will give at least a little chance for those girls to seek education, resulting in an increase in Literacy Rate.
The early marriage is majorly seen in the women from backward classes and from the poor households.
Early marriage is also responsible for an increase in the fertility rate of the women (Majorly from the backward and poor household) from society, leading to a rapid increase in population boost.
According to the Sample Registration Survey 2016, the fertility rate in India was 2.2% (that means an average woman gives birth to either 3 or 2 children in her lifetime in India), but looking at the trends, the fertility rate is inversely proportional to the literacy (Education).
For example, Bihar has the highest fertility rate of 3.2% with the women illiteracy of around 26%. Whereas, Kerala has the lowest fertility rate of 1.7% with the women illiteracy of 0.7%.
Thus, an increase in marriageable age will reduce the “child marriage” cases and will give a boost to educational opportunity and that will ultimately reduce the “fertility rate”. That means a step toward DEVELOPED INDIA.
A decrease in fertility rate will also lower the Infant Mortality Rate (currently at 44 deaths per 1000 birth), and improving the health of the child.
This will further reduce the Maternal Mortality Rate (Currently at. 167 deaths per 100000 cases), but with a strict implementation of 18 months gap between two children.
The issue here is, a girl married at the age of 16 gives birth to an unhealthy first child, and under the gap of 18 months, is under the pregnancy for her second child. This deteriorates the health of the mother and also the two unhealthy children, leading to an Increase in Infant and Maternal Mortality Rate.
An estimate of 22 years of age should be set as the minimum marriageable age for females and males. This gap will push the birth rate resulting in a low population and continuing the trend with benefits enumerated above.
Thus, with an Increase in the Marriageable Age, India can defeat its major enemy of health problems and build an integral healthy, developed and Happy India.