National Women's panel not for raising wedding age

The Commission was of the view that the present age limit of 18 for women and 21 for men should be maintained, Vyas told a press meet here today. "The Commission is  of the opinion that the existing age limit should be remained. However,a final decision in this regard would be taken only after consulting its counterparts in various states", said Vyas, who was here to attend a seminar on "Marriageable age" jointly organised by the NCW and Kerala State Commission for Woman.

The Kerala State Women Commission had earlier mooted a proposal for raising the wedding age for women to 25 and to 28 for men, considering increase divorce rate among the young couples.

" This is our second workshop for regional consultation on marriagable age. We held a similar one in Delhi in August. Such seminars will be conducted in other states. They would be shortly held in Puducherry, Utter Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and  Rajasthan ," Vyas said.

Besides the issue of marriageable age, the commission also planned to hold consultation on other legal aspects of marriage. For example, there was a debate whether a marriage contracted by a boy with a female of less than 18 years could be said to be a valid marriage and whether the custody of the the girl in such cases should be given to the husband, she said.

The NCW also wanted to formulate an opinion "whether a minor can be said to have reached the age of discretion and be allowed to walk away from the lawful guardianship of his or her parents and refuse to go into their custody," she said.

The Delhi High Cour had recently sought the NCW's opinion on the marriagable age in connection with a related case. Quoting the figures of UNICEF, she said child marriages and under-age marriages were still high in many Indian states.

Most of such cases were reported  Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Utter Pradesh , Andhra Pradesh  and Bihar, she said. Chairperson of Kerala Women's Commission, Justice D Sreedevi, said although child marriages and under age marriages were comparatively low in Kerala, it was still found among Muslim community in some northern districts of the state like Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur.

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