Childline has prevented at least three child marriages in south Assam’s Hailakandi district amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Officials of the 24-hour free emergency phone service for children, with the help of local police and the district child protection officer, prevented two marriages at Lala and another at Katlicherra.
District coordinator for Childline, Saurav Nath, told The Telegraph that its team informs the child marriage prohibition officers about such incidents and during field verification, the team along with the police visit the girl’s house and verifies her age. They then counsel the entire family regarding the consequences of child marriage and also take an undertaking from the guardians.
During 2019-2020, Childline reported 23 child marriages in Hailakandi district.
Nath said usually people living below poverty line and unlettered adopt child marriage as a religious norm and custom. He said most of the people are hesitant to call the helpline 1098 and seek help.
The Childline team has also started distributing masks to the children and the public at remote areas like Chinubasti and Serispore tea estate, as part of measures to prevent Covid-19, Nath said. They also rescued children afflicted with skin disease in different parts of the district, he added.