I read a quote somewhere a while back which I would like to put here before I start with my topic. The quote was by Diane Mariechild and it read, “A woman is a full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform”. Things are slowly getting for women. While many might disagree about this because there are, still so many atrocities and sufferings women go through to date but the rise of women in various aspects and platforms stands as evidence of the progress and growth of women.
This article is about the most recent incident that occurred in the Lok Sabha. The passing of the historic bill increased the eligibility criteria of marriage for women from 18 to 21. Well according to what I feel is this was a necessary change that needed to be made as we are living in 2021 moving forward to 2022 and having so much progress and development then our thoughts about women getting the same kind of treatment as men cannot be stuck in the old generation. What did surprise me and got me thinking was how a bill, which was meant for the betterment of women, had presented contentment and at the same time managed to bring a sense of resentment in people. Shockingly more women seemed to be questioning the bill than men are. Before we get into this, first let us understand what exactly the bill exactly means.
INTRODUCTION OF THE BILL
A bill seeking to fix 21 years as the legal age for marriage for women came to be introduced by the Union Minister of India Mrs. Smriti Irani. This bill knows as the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment Bill) 2021. The bill aims to show and bring about a sense of equality among men and women by keeping the same age for marriage for both genders. This bill also seeks to amend the other seven laws that are quite personal as well. Those bills are the Indian Christian Marriage Act; the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act; the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act; the Special Marriage Act; the Hindu Marriage Act; and the Foreign Marriage Act. The bill also aims to overpower all present working laws. This also included any kind of customs, usage, or practices that holds the parties responsible. This brought about a lot of backlash from various opposition parties of the country and therefore this bill is present in the standing committee. The union minister also made an important point when she says and I quote “As a democracy, we are 75 years late in providing equal rights to men and women to enter into matrimony”. The union minister also made very important points when she brought out the fact that even in 2021 7% of the girls as young as 15 years are becoming pregnant and nearly 23% of girls have been married away even before the age of 18. This bill not only aims to bring this down but also brings about responsibility in both the parents and brings about an increase in nutrition and care for women. This bill is going to become effective 2 years from the dates it receives Presidential confirmation
Why it is being considered a decisive step?
Women all over the world have been fighting for their rights and equality for almost many decades now. Women have learned to struggle and sacrifice many things for their rights, equality, and importance in society from the very beginning and still have a long way to go. Therefore, when this bill was brought out in the Lok Sabha by a woman minister, I am sure this created a feeling of relief, joy, and happiness in the minds of all women. This also created a sense of hope to keep moving forward and had a huge impact on women and their strength in a positive and supportive manner. The bill not only aims at making the physical life better for women but also the emotional mental part of their lives. Impactful things like this bill is a much necessary change that needs to be brought into society so that women are not expected to do things because they have reached a “certain age” which again is not decided by the women but all the other people that the small girl child is growing up with.
Why is there a sense of resentment?
Two things need to be understood by the readers. The sense of resentment has no connection with the opposition parties or their sentences of backlash. Here one is trying to understand the resentment or questions that lie in the common person’s mind. The second and the most important thing is that there is no resentment or sadness towards the bill or the aim behind the proposal of the bill. The resentment comes from a place of the bill not being enough to bring about change. There is so much more that needs to be done so that this bill has some value and establishment in society. This change and betterment should not just come from the urban sector but also the rural sector.
Child marriage is still predominant and present in societies, especially in small towns and villages. Girls are still considered a curse, a burden that needs to be cleared off before it is too late. Girls are married off even before they turn 18 and expect to look after household activities and chores from a very young age. Yes, things have gotten better at least to a small percentage concerning their education but they still have not been able to complete their education. The idea of being kept at home after they mature and at the same time making sure they leave their home is very perplexing and intriguing.
Both these sides make us question the very idea of equality, which is not just between men and women but also between women themselves. Yes, this bill does bring a sense of equality but true equality can only be achieved when more things are done to make women’s lives better. This change does not necessarily have to be as big as passing the bill; it could be as small bringing about awareness and taking small measures to make sure that every girl or woman whether she belongs to the urban society or the rural society has equal rights and opportunities like anybody else on the planet.
To conclude with a quote by Michelle Obama as she says and I quote “As women, we should stand up for ourselves. We must stand for each other. We must stand up for justice for all.”