Spike in child marriages, according to data from Assam’s Department of Social Welfare

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3,192 cases have been recorded in the state since 2016.

Cases of child marriage in Assam are on the rise, according to data provided by the state’s Department of Social Welfare.

Social Affairs Minister Ajanta Neog told the assembly on August 10 that 3,192 child marriages had been registered from fiscal year 2016-2017 to fiscal year 2020-21.

The Bharatiya Janata party formed a coalition government in Assam with two regional parties in May 2016.

Data provided by the Minister indicates that 74 child marriages were celebrated in 2016-2017, followed by 448 in 2017-2018 and 759 in 2018-2019.

The number of child marriages rose to 1,089 in 2019-2020, the fiscal year in which Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, then Minister of Finance, announced a gift of a “tola” (11.34 grams) of gold for brides. The government said at the time that the golden gift was aimed at marital reforms and verifying “underage marriage”.

The government also allocated 300 crore to the gold program called “Arundhati” and set some conditions for a wife to be eligible for gold. These included mandatory registration of marriage.

“We have appointed Child Marriage Prohibition Officers under the Child Marriage Prohibition Act 2006 to monitor child marriage. Village child protection committees are also being set up, ”Ms. Neog said in a response to a question from All India United Democratic Front MP Ashraful Hussain.

Officials from the Department of Social Welfare said most cases of child marriage are reported in predominantly Muslim areas, especially in “char” (river island) areas and on tea plantations.


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