The Ministry of Health has taken to Twitter Tuesday to calls out Shekhar Gupta’s leftist portal ThePrint for maliciously misrepresenting and distorting the Modi government’s proposal to review the legal marriage age for women which is currently 18. The Health Ministry opined that the article published by ThePrint is not only mischievous but is also far from the truth.
ThePrint, in its article, titled: “Why proposal to review marriage age for women has split Modi govt” dated August 18 (Tuesday), wrote that this decision had created a divide within the administration. The article claimed that the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is against the proposal to raise the minimum age for marriage for girls. “The proposed review, however, has been opposed by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, ThePrint has learnt”, the article by The Print said.
But the ministry has refuted this claim and has clarified that they actually support the proposal, thereby saying that the portal by Shekhar Gupta had published fake news. The ministry also gave its reason for supporting the proposal to increase the marriage age for girls.
In its statement, the health ministry said that delaying the time of marriage would not only provide the girls more time to complete their education but would also prepare them physiologically and psychologically to shoulder the responsibility of marriage and children. It said that this would help young women to make autonomous decisions regarding their fertility preferences and care.
It further added that the proposal which the Modi government is mulling will give women increased access to economic independence, greater freedom of marital choices and reproduction freedom. It said that this could be a boon for both maternal and child health, attributing to the socio-economic upliftment of the women at large.
It said that the “supporters of the review say it may help keep the population in check and prevent women from being forced into early motherhood and its multiple complications, while opponents fear it will spell chaos”.
In one particularly damaging and confusing paragraph in the article, the leftist media portal wrote: “Critics of the idea cite the example of women who become sexually active at 18, and say any increase in the age of marriage may push more of them out of the formal reproductive healthcare framework, given the stigma sex still courts in India.”
Here the media house suggests that a lot of women become sexually active and get pregnant before 21 and the only way for them to access healthcare for pregnancy is marriage. It says that if the formal age of marriage if increased to 21, the “sexually active” women below that age would be devoid of the formal healthcare facilities. However, the media house seems to be viewing this from the wrong side. They are probably not realising, that a lot of women get pregnant before 21 because they are married early, not that they get pregnant that’s why they are married off before 21.
In most cases in India, pregnancy is the result of marriage, not the cause of marriage as The Print seems to be suggesting. Therefore, if the marriage age is increased to 21, pregnancy before 21 is likely to go down.
Meanwhile, PM Modi in his Independence day speech had said that the government will reconsider the minimum age for marriage of women. He said a committee has been set up to reconsider the minimum age for marriage of country’s daughters. We will take an appropriate decision after the committee submits its report, he added.
Shekhar Gupta’s ThePrint in its hate for PM Modi has many times maliciously resorted to publishing fake, embellished or distorted articles. Be it India’s effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic, or be it publishing fake news to denigrate the Indian Railways, or attributing fake quotes to the Finance Minister, the portal run by the president of Editors Guild has not left any stone unturned to malign the Modi government.