Here is a thought. Could we please make child marriage illegal in India? In fact, could we do it today? And this is not just because today is International Women’s Day. This is because banning child marriage is the right thing to do. And always has been.
This request might surprise you. Isn’t child marriage already illegal in India? We have all heard that the minimum age for marriage in India is 18 for females and 21 for males.
Except, that is simply not true. A Muslim girl can marry legally as soon as she reaches puberty, which could be around 14 or 15. No, I am not making this up. This provision has been tested in multiple courts of law and always been found to be 100% legal. Most recently, in February this year when the Punjab & Haryana High Court ruled thus.
Read that headline and weep. This is our country in 2021. The courts have repeatedly ruled that a Muslim girl who has attained puberty is “free” to marry as per her wishes. What free choice and agency can a 14 year old kid have with respect to marriage? I cannot say. However I can tell you that with laws like these, it will be hard to look any other modern democracy in the eye.
And before you ask: this also applies to a minor girl who converts to Islam from some other community. Accordingly, the following scenario would be completely legal. A grown man, say 40 years old, approaches a 14 year old Hindu girl for “marriage.” If the 14 year old “decides” to become a Muslim, she can now legally marry her 40 year old suitor. This is our country and these are our laws.
Of course, you never hear about anyone raising this issue. Because doing so would be against woke feminism.
I have compiled here a brief wish list for Women’s Day. If anyone believes I am asking for something that is unjust or unfair, I would love to know.
(1) Ban child marriage: As mentioned above, child marriage is still legal for Muslim girls. Let us ban this.
(2) Equal inheritance rights for males and females: As per Muslim personal law, daughters receive only half the inheritance that sons are entitled to. Let us change this. For all other communities, the inheritance laws have been amended a long time ago to give equal rights to males and females.
(3) Ban female genital mutilation: Believe it or not, our Honorable Supreme Court is still sitting on a case of whether female genital mutilation should be allowed among baby girls in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. The latest I have heard is that an entire division bench is trying to figure out whether this is right or wrong. Could we help them out by passing a law banning this?
As you can see, this is not a very long list. If we convene a special session of Parliament, we can sort out this matter today itself. And just in case these measures do not pass, we will have an official list of politicians who are in favour of child marriage, in favour of female genital mutilation and against property rights for women. It would surely help voters make good decisions if this list becomes publicly available.
I have a smaller, fourth item on my wish list. Show these three points to anyone who claims to be woke, liberal or feminist. And if you find that they are against any of the three items I mentioned here, never take them seriously ever again.