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Defining Girlhood in IndiaA Transnational History of Sexual Maturity Laws$
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Ashwini Tambe

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042720

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042720.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Population Control and Marriage Age in India, 1960–1978

Population Control and Marriage Age in India, 1960–1978

(p.101) 5 Population Control and Marriage Age in India, 1960–1978
Defining Girlhood in India

Ashwini Tambe

University of Illinois Press

Chapter 5 examines how the age of marriage in India was finally raised in the 1970s to 18 years for girls. It describes how worries about population control drove the change, and it traces the prominent role that India and Indian experts played in demographic writing in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. It demonstrates how closely aligned Indian population control policies were with the intellectual positions of the international population control establishment: Indian demographers treated the age of marriage as a technocratic measure aimed at reducing population growth rather than a measure focused on expanding life chances and preventing forced sex for girls. A shift occurred from an overwhelming focus on potentially vulnerable girls to potentially overfertile girls who could be threats to the future of the nation. This chapter explains why Indian feminists were not at the forefront of the 1978 measure raising the age of marriage. It is one more reminder of how the seemingly well-meaning focus on early marriage among girls is tethered to interests that have very little to do with girls themselves.

Keywords:   population control, age of marriage, fertility, CMRA Amendment of 1978, Indian feminists

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