Child marriage: Indian police arrest more than 2,000 men
GUWAHATI, India –
Indian police have arrested more than 2,000 men in a crackdown on illegal child marriages involving girls under the age of 18 in a northeastern state, officials said on Saturday.
Gyanendra State Police Chief Pratap Singh said those arrested this week included more than 50 Hindu priests and Muslim clerics for allegedly arranging weddings for underage girls in Assam.
“So far, we have arrested 2,169 men based on 4,074 cases registered with the police involving a total of about 8,000 men,” Singh said.
Many cases of child marriage in Assam, a state of 35 million people, go unreported.
There are only 155 cases of child marriage in the state registered in 2021 and 138 in 2020, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
In India, the legal age of marriage is 21 for men and 18 for women. Poverty, lack of education, social norms and practices, especially in rural areas, are considered to be the causes of child marriage across the country.
Television images on Friday showed several young women holding babies in their arms, crying and protesting the sudden arrest of their husbands.
“We struggled and somehow managed to make ends meet. But we are very happy together. Who will provide for us when my husband has been arrested?” asked a young woman.
Singh said child marriage is one of the reasons for the state’s high infant and maternal mortality rates.
“I have asked Assam police to act with zero tolerance for this heinous and unforgivable crime against women,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, the state’s top elected official. tweeted.
The Indian parliament is considering legislation to increase the marriage age for women from 18 to 21, to match men and promote gender equality.
India’s Minister for Women’s and Children’s Development Smriti Irani told Parliament on Friday that the move will help girls complete their education and achieve economic independence in addition to achieving sexual maturity. physical and psychological.