Modi acting like 'mohalla uncle' by raising women's marriage age: Owaisi

An 18-year-old man and woman can sign contracts, start businesses, choose the Prime Minister, and elect MPs and MLAs but not marry? They can consent to sexual relationships and live-in partnerships but cannot choose their life partners? Just ridiculous, said Mr. Owaisi.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  17 Dec 2021 1:18 PM GMT
Modi acting like mohalla uncle by raising womens marriage age: Owaisi

Hyderabad: AIMIM president and MP Asaduddin Owaisi on Friday criticized the Centre's move to raise the legal age of marriage for women from age 18 to 21 and called it "typical paternalism".

"This is typical paternalism that we have come to expect from the government. An 18-year-old man and woman can sign contracts, start businesses, choose the Prime Minister, and elect MPs and MLAs but not marry? They can consent to sexual relationships and live-in partnerships but cannot choose their life partners? Just ridiculous," said Mr. Owaisi.

He said both men and women should be allowed to legally marry at 18 as they're treated as adults by the law for all other purposes. "Child marriages are rampant despite a law. Every fourth woman in India was married before turning 18 but only 785 criminal cases of child marriages were recorded. If child marriages have reduced, it's due to education and economic progress, not criminal law," said Mr. Owaisi.

The AIMIM chief pointed out that men and women are treated as adults at 18 for most critical things and asked why marriage should be any different. The legal age is not really a criterion, the essential goal must be to ensure education, economic progress, and human development. "In contrast, the Modi government acts like a Mohalla Uncle. Deciding what we eat, who/when we marry, what God we worship, etc," said Mr. Owaisi.

He further added that 12 million kids are married before they turn 10. The fact that 84% of these are from Hindu families and only 11% are Muslims clearly points to the fact that social reform and government initiatives in education and human development are critical to preventing child marriages, he said.

"More than the legal age of marriage, it is improved education and better economic prospects for youngsters, that impacts when they marry. Forty-five per cent of the poorest households had child marriages and only 10% of the wealthiest households did so. If Modi was sincere, he would have focused on increasing economic opportunities for women. Yet India is the only country where women's participation in the workforce is dwindling. It fell to 16% in 2020 from 26% in 2005," the MP said.

He pointed out that it's essential to improve their educational outcomes to ensure autonomous decision-making. "What has the government done to improve education for girls? Seventy-nine per cent of the Rs. 446.72 crore Beti Bachao Beti Padhao budget was spent on advertisements. You want us to believe that this government has sincere intentions?" asked Mr. Owaisi.

He said the Supreme Court recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right for adults and the autonomy to make decisions concerning oneself is critical to this fundamental right. This includes the right to choose a partner and the right to decide if/when to have children. "In many US states, marriage age is as low as 14. In UK and Canada, it's 16. In New Zealand, 16-19-year-olds can marry with parental consent. These nations improved human development of young people so that they can make informed decisions rather than fixing arbitrary age restrictions," he said.

He added, "Ironically, the government proposes 18 as the age of consent in Data Bill. If 18-year-olds can choose how their data is used, why can't they choose their life partners? It's time to stop thinking of young people as children in perpetuity. They should be allowed the space to think and decide for themselves. This is also why I've proposed a private members' Bill that will allow 20-year-olds to become MPs and MLAs."

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