Indian gov't clears proposal to raise marriage age of women from 18 to 21

India's federal government has cleared a proposal to increase the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years, local media reports said Thursday.

The decision to increase the marriageable age among women was reportedly made during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Currently, the minimum age of marriage for men is 21 and for women, it is 18. With the move, the legal age of marriage for women now will be the same as men.

"Following the cabinet's approval, the government will introduce an amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, and consequently bring amendments to the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and personal laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955," said a local newspaper quoting government sources.

Reports said Wednesday's cabinet clearance is based on recommendations submitted to the Indian government's top policy think tank -- the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog (commission) -- by a task force constituted to examine matters pertaining to age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering maternal mortality rate, and improvement of nutritional levels.

The recommendations on the proposal mooted by the task force, set up in June last year, stressed a woman must be at least 21 years old at the time of first pregnancy.

The task force has also recommended that a comprehensive public awareness campaign be chalked out to encourage social acceptance of the decision.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned the proposal during his Independence Day speech last year.

"This government is constantly concerned about the health of daughters and sisters. To save the daughters from malnutrition, it is necessary that they're married at the right age," Modi said.

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