Over 2,000 Arrested in Nationwide Crackdown on Child Marriage in India
On Saturday, Indian authorities announced that they had arrested over 2,000 men as part of a crackdown on child marriages involving girls under the age of 18 in a state in the country’s northeast.
Many cases of child marriage are being reported all across India.
Assam’s state police chief Gyanendra Pratap Singh said that this week, more than fifty religious leaders were arrested for allegedly officiating marriages between minors.
A total of 8,000 men were involved in 4,074 police cases, and so far 2,169 men have been arrested, as stated by Singh.
Assam is home to child marriage in India. Reports suggested that over 35 million people, yet many instances of child marriage there go unreported.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were only 155 cases of child marriage in the state in 2021, and 138 in 2020.
Women in India can legally get married at the age of 18, while men must be at least 21. It is widely believed that poverty, a lack of education, and social norms and practises, especially in rural areas, contribute to the prevalence of child marriages in the country as a whole.
Images broadcast on Friday showed young women protesting the sudden arrests of their husbands while holding their infants in their arms and crying.
We were having a hard time, but we managed to get by. But in the end, we were content in our relationship. Since my husband’s arrest, I’ve been wondering, “Who will provide for our livelihood?” questioned a young lady.
Infant and maternal mortality rates in the state are extremely high, and Singh has blamed child marriage in India for this.
He said, “I have asked the Assam police to act with a spirit of zero tolerance against the unpardonable and heinous crime on women,” and the state’s top elected official, Himanta Biswa Sarma, responded with a tweet.
In an effort to promote gender equality, the Indian Parliament is currently debating a bill on child marriage in India that would raise the legal marriage age for women from 18 to 21.
Smriti Irani, India’s Minister for Women and Child Development, told Parliament on Friday that the move would help girls finish school and become economically self-sufficient as well as emotionally and physically mature.
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