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Different viewpoints on the appropriate minimum age for entering into matrimony have made the marriage age debate in India a contentious topic for many years. In India, the legal age of marriage


Different viewpoints on the appropriate minimum age for entering into matrimony have made the marriage age debate in India a contentious topic for many years. In India, the legal age of marriage is 18 for women and 21 for men; however, there have been requests to raise this age to 21 for both sexes.[1] The goal of this article is to give a thorough summary of the arguments for and against making the minimum age for marriage in India 18 or 21. The dispute and its importance in modern India are briefly explained in the opening paragraphs of the blog. The problem of marriage age has grown more critical due to the nation’s expanding population and shifting societal standards. On the one hand, those who favour making the legal marriage age 18 contend that doing so gives people a chance to exercise their civil liberties, including the right to marry. On the other hand, those who favour making the legal marriage age 21 emphasise the need for a marriage to be more mature and stable.[2] The thesis statement, which sets the tone for the remainder of the piece, comes at the end of the introduction. This blog aims to clarify the difficulties of the marriage age debate in India by offering a thorough analysis of the subject and adding to the ongoing conversation about this crucial issue.


The marriage age in India has a long history that is entrenched in rituals and behaviours that have been influenced by social mores, culture, and religion. The minimum age for marriage was not regulated in ancient times, and arranged marriages were frequent. Girls were expected to get married as soon as they hit puberty, which might be as early as age 12 or 13.[3] Over the years, religion had a big impact on what age people could legally be married. In Hinduism, girls were permitted to marry as soon as they reached puberty, while boys had to wait until they were older. Islam, in contrast, established a minimum age of 16 for girls and 18 for boys.[4] India’s social and cultural landscape saw substantial changes in the 20th century, which contributed to a rising understanding of the value of education and the necessity of raising the minimum marriage age. The Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed by the Indian government in 1929, setting the minimum age for girls to marry at 14 and for boys to marry at 18. In 1978, this rule was changed to make the minimum age for boys and girls, respectively, 21 and 18.[5]

Although child weddings still happen in some rural and conservative groups, the legal marriage age in India is now 18 for girls and 21 for boys. Despite this, India has made great strides in raising the marriage minimum age and raising awareness of the drawbacks of early unions. The historical background of the marriage age in India sheds light on how laws and practices have changed through time as well as current initiatives to provide children with the chance to mature, develop, and make wise decisions about their future.


There are now two primary competing views on the minimum age for marriage in India, and the argument continues to rage between these two numbers: 18 and 21. Those who favour making the legal marriage age 18 claim that it is a constitutional requirement and the age at which people are regarded as adults and have the capacity to make their own choices.[6] They contend that young people, particularly those living in rural and economically underdeveloped areas, might find stability and financial security through early marriages.

On the other hand, those who favour making the legal marriage age 21 contend that doing so is important to safeguard children, particularly women, from exploitation and abuse. Additionally, they contend that teenagers at this age are still physically, emotionally, and psychologically impressionable and are unprepared to manage the obligations of marriage and children. Additionally, it’s thought that the higher age limit has helped to significantly lower the number of child marriages, which are a big problem in India.[7] The minimum age for marriage in India is higher than in many other nations when compared to international standards, and there is growing support for raising the age to 21.[8] The complexity of the cultural, social, legal, and policy factors that go into setting the minimum age for marriage in India is brought to light in this argument, which also emphasises the necessity for a thoughtful and impartial approach to solving the problem.


In India, the social and cultural repercussions of the marriage age are extensive and intricate. Early weddings, which are ones that take place before the age of 18, can have a big impact on a person’s life as well as on society. Early marriages can affect a person’s ability to complete their education and advance in their career, which can result in fewer possibilities and a lower standard of living. Young brides are also frequently expected to take on the roles of wife and mother right once, which places a huge load on them and jeopardises their health and wellness.[9] Early marriages can contribute to the persistence of gender inequality and poverty in society. Young women are frequently encouraged to leave their families and communities in order to join their husbands’ families, which results in a loss of social support and a decrease in social mobility. Early marriage increases the likelihood that a child would grow up in poverty and have limited educational opportunities, which can feed the cycle of poverty.

The argument over the marriage age has important cultural ramifications as well. Early marriages are viewed in some groups as a means of protecting cultural traditions and guaranteeing the survival of the family line.[10] However, this viewpoint frequently ignores the rights and requirements of young girls, who could face pressure to enter into unions against their will. Additionally, traditional beliefs in India about marriage and family are being reexamined as a result of shifting perspectives on women’s access to education and employment prospects. In essence, there are numerous and intricate social and cultural repercussions of India’s marriage age. Early weddings can have severe negative effects on people and society, including perpetuating poverty, gender inequality, and limiting chances, even though they may be perceived as upholding traditional traditions.


The legal and political ramifications of India’s minimum marriage age are important and have a wide-ranging impact on society. According to current Indian legislation in relation to the Hindus, women must be 18 years old and men must be 21 years old before they can get married.[1] However, there have been requests as well as the bill tabulation to raise the legal age of marriage for both sexes to 21, as evidence suggests that those who marry young are more likely to have difficulties like health issues, poverty, and limited chances for education and employment.[11] It is critical to take into account the legal and policy ramifications of suggested modifications in order to address the marriage age debate in an effective manner. For instance, a proposal to raise the legal age of consent to marriage from 18 to 21 would necessitate a thorough evaluation of the viability of enacting new laws and regulations. The potential effects of such a shift would also need to be investigated, including how it would affect the number of child marriages and people’s and families’ general socioeconomic situation.

In addition, examining global norms and contrasting Indian law with those of other nations are important legal and policy issues. This can give important information about the efficacy of various strategies and can guide the creation of new laws and regulations.

Summation: In order to effect significant change, it is important to thoroughly evaluate the complicated and multifaceted legal and policy issues underlying the marriage age discussion in India. To make sure that any decisions are in the best interests of people and society as a whole, it is crucial to conduct a thorough analysis of existing laws, regulations, and policies as well as the potential effects of suggested changes.


Finally, it should be noted that the argument over India’s legal minimum marriage age is a complicated and varied topic that takes into account cultural, social, legal, and governmental factors. Although India’s ancient rituals and customs have changed over time, they continue to have a big impact on the country’s culture. Due to its harmful effects on both individuals and society as a whole as well as the rise in child weddings, the current situation where 18 is the minimum age for marriage has been contested and discussed. The necessity to make sure people are both physically and psychologically mature before they accept the responsibilities of marriage, on the other hand, is the justification for raising the minimum age to 21. International norms are also in favour of raising the marriage minimum age. The legal and political issues underlying India’s marriage age minimum are also quite important in this discussion. It is necessary to carefully assess the viability of enacting new laws and regulations as well as any potential effects they may have on society. Given these considerations, it’s critical to strike a balance between tradition and modernity and to take both the welfare of the individual and the welfare of society into account. Any adjustments to the minimum marriage age in India must take into account the cultural and social ramifications. For this complicated and important subject, more investigation and analysis are needed to decide on the best course of action.

Author(s) Name: Akshar Aditya (Hidayatullah National Law University)


[1] Section 5 (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955