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| @ | August 14,2019

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]HARATIYA Janata Party leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar has filed a PIL before Delhi High Court that sought a common legal age of marriage for both men and women.

Describing the current norms as discriminatory, Kumar’s petition stated that the marriage age for women in India is 18 and for men it is 21.

Referring to gender equality and gender justice, the petition maintained that the difference in marriageable ages was “blatant discrimination.”

Upadhyay’s petition further said the difference in marriageable ages was “based in patriarchal stereotypes, had no scientific backing, perpetuated…inequality between men and women.”

The petition stated that the age-difference was also an affront to fundamental rights of both sexes. The difference is against Article 14 (right to equality), Article 15 (anti-discrimination law), and Article 21 (protection of life and liberty), the petition argued.

Men and women should not get married before they are 21-years-old, says the petition. It relies on several WHO reports that said, “marriage of women before the age of 20 faces a higher risk of low birth weight, preterm delivery, and severe neonatal conditions.”

Upadhya’s petition noted that men aren’t expected to marry before 21-years to allow them to study, work. Women should be conferred the same opportunity.

“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 stated. It prayed for the court to equalise the marriageable age to 21-years for both sexes.

It is likely to come up for hearing before Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Dhirubhai Naranbhai Patel on Monday.

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