Kamrup Registers Yearly 3-fold rise of Child Marriage Cases in Past 3 years

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Kamrup Registers Yearly 3-fold rise of Child Marriage Cases in Past 3 years

Harshita Himatsingka | February 23, 2019 13:15 hrs

GUWAHATI: In 2019, out of the 208 cases of children in distress, 160 of those were that of child marriage recorded in the Kamrup district of Assam. In a majority of these cases, the unsuspecting victims were lured into marriage by agents or older men based on the former’s ignorance and innocence. 

This problem continues to exist even though awareness programs are continually held to educate minor girls in rural and char areas. Just last year in November, the Adolescent & Child Rights Network Assam (ACRNA) in partnership with UNICEF, had organised a week-long campaign against child marriage. ACRNA had even conducted a consultation of stakeholders on preventing child marriage in the city and launched a charter with children’s perspective on child marriage at Don Bosco Institute. 

However, despite these efforts, Kamrup district has emerged as one of the most popular locations for child marriage. 


In a report by a national newspaper, a Childline officer said that they are attending to cases of child marriage every day and that most of such cases are reported from Mandira, Nagarbera, Sontoli and Boko.
 
Police suspect that in a number of cases like these, minor girls are trafficked out of the state by agents who trap them and then take them to Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana and other locations. Many such girls have been rescued from forced marriages in Rajasthan and Gujarat and have even been rescued from flesh trade centres in Hissar, New Delhi, Bikaner and some south Indian states.
 
Assam’s social welfare department has recorded an increasing number of such cases that are escalating every year. In 2015-16, 32 incidents of child marriage were reported, which increased to 96 in 2016-17 and then the number of cases rose by three times to 317 in 2017-18. 

Year

Number of cases of child marriage

2015-16

32

2016-17

96

2017-18

317

2018-19 (Until now)

160

An official from the department said that they carry out different activities that include distribution of information, education and communication materials, leaflets and posters in every district to create awareness against child marriage. 

Apart from Kamrup, other districts that show prevalence of child marriage include Goalpara, Barpeta, Cachar, Dibrugarh, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong, Jorhat, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia. 

A recap into prevention policies 

Speaking at the Assam Assembly in late November of 2018, social welfare minister, Pramila Rani Brahma said that the state government is taking a number of initiatives to prevent child marriage in the state. 

To enforce the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, the department had framed the State Child Marriage Prohibition Rule in 2015 according to which, district child protection officers and child marriage prohibition officers have been given the responsibility to prevent these illegal marriages. 

Brahma mentioned that the district child protection unit and child welfare committee have been made operational in every district and protection officer (non-institutional care and institutional care) and legal and probation officers have been appointed under child protection units.
 
She also added that to prevent child marriages, Childline India Foundation has activated a toll-free helpline service (1098) in Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro), Barpeta, Cachar, Dibrugarh, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong, Jorhat, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia districts. 

Apart from these districts, the Railway Childline is also working to provide emergency outreach services to children in need of care and protection on trains and at railway stations. In a recent win for this department, they had rescued 373 children from Guwahati Railway Station between April 1, 2018 to January 30, 2019. 

However, even though these policies have been created, the level of their implementation is not known as the numbers indicate a different story.

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