Assam Northeast

Assam’s Child Marriage Crackdown Model is an example for India to follow

The latest crackdown on child marriage led by Assam CM Hon’ble Himanta Biswa Sarma Ji with the active engagement of Assam Police is highly laudable. It brings to light a long-pending societal issue.

I applaud to authorities concerned in providing justice to young girls who have been victims of child marriage in the past & urge every state to follow Assam’s Child Marriage Crackdown Model.

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) envisions a commitment to end child marriage by 2030. UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, defend their rights, and help them fulfill their potential from early childhood through adolescence.

Child marriage is widely recognized as a human rights violation, yet it persists. The practice affects not only child brides but also their families, communities, and countries at large, mentions the website of UNICEF, adding that it perpetuates cycles of poverty, undermines gender equality, and blocks progress towards the better, fairer world envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Let’s also recall the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006. It is an act to provide for the prohibition of solemnization of child marriages and matters connected in addition to that or incidental to it. The act is hugely significant in itself.

“State-wide arrests are presently underway against those violating provisions of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.”, reads a tweet by Assam CM Hon’ble Sarma Ji last week.

He added, “I have asked Assam Police to act with a spirit of zero tolerance against the unpardonable and heinous crime on women.”

The vision to have a progressive society with no child marriages is the need of the hour, and a total ban on child marriages and strict action in case of violation of the law is also a strong demand now.

Child marriage is a serious issue in India, and Assam is no exception. Despite laws prohibiting the practice, it persists in many rural and tribal areas. It affects the health and education of young girls and perpetuates a cycle of poverty and inequality.

However, under the leadership of Hon’ble CM Himanta Biswa Sarma Ji, the Assam Police has taken swift action to clamp down on child marriage. In recent raids, the police rescued several minors and arrested those responsible for arranging the marriages.

“Our drive against child marriage is for public health & public welfare as the teenage pregnancy ratio in Assam is quite alarming – 16.8%. We’re resolved to continue this drive until we fulfill our objective. I urge the people to cooperate with us in controlling this harmful trend.”, reads another tweet by Hon’ble CM Sarma this week. He attached statistics too.

The efforts of Assam Police and CM Sarma are commendable, as they demonstrate a commitment to protecting the rights of children and promoting gender equality. The crackdown on child marriage sends a clear message that the Assam government will not tolerate such harmful practices and will take decisive action to end them.

Now, this model should be followed by other states in India, as child marriage is a widespread issue that affects the health, education, and overall well-being of countless children across the country.

The government is responsible for protecting all children’s rights, and a concerted effort is needed to end child marriage.

In addition to law enforcement, the Assam model also involves close collaboration with community leaders and NGOs to raise awareness about the dangers of child marriage. It is crucial in promoting long-term change, as it involves the entire community in the fight against child marriage.

The commitment of UNICEF to end child marriage by 2023 needs practical implementation as the Assam Model. Child marriage needs a solution; more concerted global action is urgently needed. If the world is to advance towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of eliminating child marriage by 2030, immediate reforms in high-burden countries are crucial.

While typing this paragraph, the total number of arrests in the continued drive against child marriage in Assam crossed 2500.

Following the UNICEF pledge and commitment to end child marriage by 2030, let there be an added focus in five evidence-based areas of intervention:

  1. Ensure that economic growth reaches the most underprivileged segments of society and put gender-responsive social protection programs in place to support families in greatest need.
  2. Strengthen labor market policies that encourage decent work for women so that parents see value in keeping their daughters in school, and promote policies that address the burden of unpaid care work, which falls disproportionately on girls and women.
  3. Invest in quality secondary education that enables girls to gain knowledge, learn skills, and improve their future employment prospects.
  4. Empower girls who are already married, divorced, or widowed by supporting their continuation or re-entry into school and improving their access to health care.
  5. Tackle harmful gender norms and power dynamics across all efforts to ensure that girls are empowered to speak up and make their own choices regarding if, when, and whom they will marry.

By following the Assam model, other states can ensure that they take a comprehensive approach to ending child marriage and creating a safer and more equal society for all children.

India’s future depends on its children’s well-being, and it is time for all states to take action to protect their rights and ensure a bright future for them.

  • Devid Debbarma,
    GS, Tripura BJP Janajati Morcha.

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