Ahead of the annual meeting of the RSS’ highest decision-making body, its women wing Rashtriya Sevika Samiti on Sunday said that girls should marry after getting proper education, but suggested that “imposing” a marriage age might not yield desired results.
The three-day meeting of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Pratinidhi Sabha will start from March 11 where a host of issues are expected to be discussed including the proposed raising of the marriage age of females from 18 to 21 years.
During the Winter session of parliament in December, Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani introduced the bill proposing to raise the marriage age of females from 18 to 21 years, on a par with males.
But the bill was later referred to a parliamentary standing committee by Lok Sabha for wider discussions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have projected the proposed legislation as an important step to provide equal opportunities to girls and boys in society.
Underlining that Rashtriya Sevika Samiti “opposes” child marriage, its prachar pramukh Sunila Sohwani said, ”Girls should marry after proper upbringing and education so that they can become an able person.”
When asked about the government’s bill proposing to increase marriage age, Sohwani said the organisation has gathered feedback from society and there were different opinions both favouring and opposing it.
“According to the feedback gathered by us from our workers and society, there were both types of views regarding raising the marriage age of girls.
“‘It has been observed that imposing something on society on social issues such as marriage age of females might not yield desired results. Such issues are better to be dealt with public awareness and holding wider discussions,” Sohwani told PTI.
On the question of the BJP-led central government’s approach, Sohwani termed it as “appropriate” and said the government has been holding wider discussions on this issue.
Sohwani said the Samiti has also shared its views with the parliamentary standing committee examining the issue.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Sports and Women and Child Development, chaired by senior BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, has invited suggestions from the public on the issue.
The bill was drafted on the basis of the suggestions of a task force headed by former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly.
The task force was assigned by the ministry to look into the correlation between the age of marriage with issues of women’s nutrition, the prevalence of anemia, infant mortality rate and other social indices.