Spurt in child marriage cases in Assam in 2017-18
There has been a spurt in child marriage cases in Assam in the past three years, the Assam Assembly was informed on Friday.
Of the 445 cases, more than two-thirds took place in 2017-18. Assam social welfare minister Pramila Rani Brahma told the Assembly that incidents of child marriages increased to 317 in 2017-18 from 96 in 2016-17 and 32 in 2015-16.
Replying to a question by Roselina Tirkey of the Congress, Brahma furnished district-wise data of child marriages, which revealed 59 cases in Kamrup district, 39 in Barpeta, 26 in Baksa, 22 each in Nagaon and Goalpara, and 19 in Morigaon in 2017-18.
She said the state government is taking a number of steps to curb child marriages.
“To enforce the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the social welfare department framed the State Child Marriage Prohibition Rule in 2015,” Brahma said.
She said according to the rule, the district child protection officers and child marriage prohibition officers have been entrusted with the responsibility to prevent these marriages.
“Moreover, district child protection unit and child welfare committee have been made operational in every district and protection officer (non-institutional care), protection officer (institutional care) and legal-cum-probation officer have been appointed under child protection units,” the minister said.
The child protection units are carrying out different activities, including distribution of information, education and communication (IEC) materials such as leaflets and posters in every district to create awareness against child marriages.
Brahma said to prevent child marriages, Childline India Foundation has activated toll-free 1098 child helpline service in Kamrup, Kamrup (metro), Barpeta, Cachar, Dibrugarh, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong, Jorhat, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia districts.
Apart from these districts, Railway Childline is functioning to provide emergency outreach services to children in need of care and protection on trains and at railway stations.
Brahma said Childline India would introduce the helpline service in Hailakandi, Sivasagar and Bongaigaon districts in 2018-19.
According to the India Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy report recently released by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura are among 12 states with child marriage rates higher than the national average.
The report revealed 13 districts in Assam and Tripura are among the 100 high child marriage-prevalent districts in the country.