Chief Minister Himata Biswa Sarma Friday reported more than 4000 cases of men marrying underage girls in the Indian state of Assam with over 1800 arrests.
“Assam [Government] is firm in its resolve to end the menace of child marriage in the state,” Sarma shared on Facebook, saying action on the cases will start February 3. The post stated, “So far Assam Police has registered 4,004 cases across the state and more police action is likely in days ahead.”
“I have asked @assampolice to act with a spirit of zero tolerance against the unpardonable and heinous crime on women,” Sarma continued on Twitter.
Assam police posted similar statistics on social media, saying they “remain committed to completely eradicate the menace of #ChildMarriage & scourge of resultant IMR and MMR in the State.”
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act prohibits marriage under 18 in India, but the law is consistently disobeyed.
According to UNICEF, one in three of the world’s child brides live in India. Of the country’s 223 million child brides, 102 million were married before turning 15. While approximately one in four young women in India were married or in union before their 18th birthday. It’s also stated that girls who live in rural areas or come from poorer households are at greater risk, and a higher proportion of child brides are found among those with little or no education.
UNICEF said the practice is a violation of human rights and leads to intergenerational poverty: “Child marriage ends childhood. It negatively influences children’s rights to education, health and protection. These consequences impact not just the girl directly, but also her family and community.”
UNICEF and UNFPA have joined forces through a Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, where strategies in areas such as health, education, child protection, nutrition and water and sanitation have been brought together to address child marriage in a holistic manner.
UNICEF said the approach is to address child marriage “through the entire lifecycle of a child, especially by addressing persisting negative social norms which are key drivers for the high prevalence of child marriage in India.”