Child Marriage – UPSC Ethics

In your opinion, why is child marriage considered as illegal and unethical? If a 15 year old girl wants to marry a person whom she loves, shouldn’t she be allowed that choice? If denied, does this mean one is denying her rights as human being? Critically comment. (200 Words)

Children are innocent and not rational being. They grow at the pace of biological maturation and in the way what is exposed to them. Their growth depends on environment, parents, facilities like books/schools/outside exposure, foods etc.
In initial years their mind and body is fast changing. Hence, it takes time to grow as mentally stable, physically capable to sustain as a part of society.
After marriage one has to take bigger roles and wider decisions about family which a child can’t sustain economically and psychologically. This was put under Sarda act 1929 legislating Min. age of marriage. Before 18 years, a child is considered as a ward under guardian and should not be allowed to take such big decision of life because priorities and likeness changes very fast in child mind.
For a child her priorities changes very fast from toys, bicycle, cheering friends,  crushes/ infatuations to latest trend. All of which becomes trivial once they mature in life. Hence, decision of marriage which is lifetime decision shouldn’t be trusted on teen’s infatuations.
Denying a 15 years old girl for not marrying at this age is not encroachment of her rights as human because:
— Constitutionally she is not allowed to marry at age of 15.
— Biologically she is not prepared to conceive.
— Economically she is not independent to take such decisions.
— Psychologically she is not strong enough to bear stress if something goes wrong.
Also, it’s her age to make her life more enriched with education and skills. She has to attain her fullest potential in these formative years.
Child marriage is considered illegal because it is not permitted by Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. As per law a girl needs to be 18 years old for marriage and a boy should be 21 years old for marriage. These laws are made up only after years of experience and after seeing the ill effects of early marriages.
Child marriage is unethical because at this age that child is not ready for marriage psychologically, emotionally, economically and physically.
Marriage has various aspects and not just two persons living together. Psychologically and emotionally a girl below age is not ready as per the experts and as per the experiences seen in this world. Marriage needs a strong person who has more control over his or her emotions and psychologically who is not weak.
For a boy to have grown up and earning after studying and even if not studied and working as a labour a person needs to earn money so that he can give a good life to his family to economically it needed.
Physically also a marriage have a toll on both boy and girl and life becomes more tiring after marriage due to physical work needed and body is not ready to have sex .
Also, it is considered a maturity comes at the age of 18 years and that’s why there are lot of things which are allowed at the age of 18 years such as suffrage, driving license etc.
So denying a girl to marry at 15 years is not denying her rights as at the age of 15 she is not that mature to take the decisions of her choice. She will not be able to understand the impact and think from all angles before taking such a decision. Although we cannot say that girl will be able to take right decision at the age of 18 years but still she will be more mature and should be able to understand things much better at this age.
The illegality of child marriages is set on the premise of prohibition of child marriage act. The act itself was based on the scientific analysis and knowledge of the human body. Perceived harms and future life when taken into consideration the law makers in India arrived at certain age where it may be safe to allow marriages that secure the individual’s life and make society stable.
At early marriages, for one she does not have enough developed wisdom to acknowledge the meaning of marriage and life partners. Second, the children are produced in early stages, when the bodily development of the female is not complete. Generally at the late teenage the haemoglobin count is less and tends to increase afterwards in life. The teenagers also have the tendency to thin out immediately post puberty and gain mass post 18 years.
Early marriages then have higher tendencies to prove harmful for both mother and child. Hence the rationale for the age of 18 years.
An individual is a part of society which has certain rules that are to be followed. The society has set the age of girls as 18 years for marriages, based on scientific analyses. The motive is here for the utilitarianism. If one breaches the rule, there may be voices from the other side too snowballing into a complete rule breakdown and reverting back to primitive principles. Surely if long term health if society as a whole is concerned the rule shall be followed.
Of course she has the right to freedom, but her choice of right may jeopardise the health of many others. Hence her right may be respected, but is not prudent course in this context.



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