On Thursday night, officers of the Assam Police in India began arresting individuals accused of being engaged in child marriages. The Assam government has registered 4,004 cases and arrested 1,800 male suspects so far.
The crackdown was carried out under the directions of the Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma. He instructed the SPs of all districts to contact their respective villages’ defense authorities. 52 religious leaders, including priests, Qazis, and marriage registrars, have been detained.
“From Muslims to Hindus, Christians, tribal people to those belonging to the tea garden communities, there are men from all faiths and communities who got arrested for this heinous social crime,” Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
Himanta Biswa said, “Child marriage is the primary reason behind child pregnancy, which in turn is responsible for high maternal and infant mortality rates.”
Assam Cabinet Decision Following the Crackdown
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POSCO) will be used to pursue legal action against males who marry minor girls under the age of 14 in Assam. This decision was reached by the Assam Cabinet in an effort to deter the practice of child marriage.
On the other hand, according to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006, males who have married females between the ages of 14 and 18 will be subject to criminal prosecution.
About 2 months ago, CM HB Sarma had told police that he had got inputs that child marriage was rampant in the sta&directed Police to carry out a probe. During last 2 days, 4074 cases across different districts of the State. Till 3pm today, 2044 people arrested till now: Assam DGP pic.twitter.com/0QoU7EKI5C
— ANI (@ANI) February 3, 2023
Sarma said, “There are over one lakh – 100.000 – child marriage cases, and police in the next 15 days will launch a crackdown and take legal action. Around 11.07 women have to bear children at a non-permitted age. This shows child marriage is happening alarmingly.”
Child Marriage Country Profile in India
According to UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage, there are around 223 million child brides living in India, which accounts for one-third of the total number of child brides living throughout the world.
Despite the law and widespread advocacy against child marriage, the practice continues to be prevalent in India. The statistics show at least 1.5 million girls under the age of 18 are married in India every year. Close to 16 percent of all Indian teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are already married.
Commitment of the Indian Government to End Child Marriages
The Chief Minister of Assam stated that their efforts to combat child marriage will be impartial and will not target any specific community. Instead, the fight against child marriage will have a secular approach; meaning it will be inclusive and impartial toward all communities.
CHILLED MARRIAGE ACT 2006
The Government of Assam is really welcome to take steps against child marriage.I think child marriage means creating the root cause of unrest/chaos in society.Therefore, the Himanta government's fight against child marriage is acceptable and welcome. pic.twitter.com/n20ND4P05F
— Eliajur Rahman (@EliajurR) February 3, 2023
He further emphasized that individuals who arrange those weddings, such as religious leaders and priests, would be held responsible. This declaration reaffirms the government’s commitment to tackle the problem of child marriage in an all-encompassing and equal way.