A plea was moved on Wednesday in the Delhi High Court to equalise legal age of marriage for men and women, saying the limit of 18 years for a woman amounts to “blatant discrimination”.
Men in India are permitted to get married at the age of 21.
The public interest litigation (PIL) moved by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay claimed that the difference in minimum age of marriage for men and women was based on patriarchal stereotypes and has no scientific backing.
“The petition challenges a blatant, ongoing form of discrimination against women. That is the discriminatory minimum age limit for marriage for men and women in India. “While men in India are permitted to get married only at the age of 21 years, women are allowed to get married when they are 18. This distinction is based in patriarchal stereotypes, has no scientific backing, perpetrates de jure and de facto inequality against women, and goes completely against global trends,” the petition contends.
The petition further said “it is a social reality” that married women are expected to perform a subordinate role vis-à-vis the husband and this “power imbalance” is deeply aggravated by the age difference.
“A younger spouse is, therefore, expected to respect and be servile to her elder partner, which aggravates the pre-existing gender based hierarchy in the marital relationship,” the petition states and seeks to equalise legal age of marriage for men and women.