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Saving minor girls

Marriage of girls below the age of 18 has become a very serious menace in Assam.

minor girls

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  30 Jan 2023 4:35 AM GMT

Marriage of girls below the age of 18 has become a very serious menace in Assam. This has become evident in the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) report which showed an alarmingly high percentage of child marriage in the state, which is as high as 31 per cent. What is even more alarming is that this high percentage of child marriage is also one of the major factors for the high rate of maternal mortality and infant mortality in Assam. It has been already reported that the prevalence of child marriage in Assam is especially high in ten districts of the state. Child marriage is seen not just in lower Assam districts but also in some districts of upper Assam. There are almost one lakh cases of child marriages in the state. Though the NFHS report has not mentioned in detail, the fact remains that child marriage has been particularly high in a particular religious community, followed by a section of tea tribes. But then, it is common knowledge that child marriage is also still prevalent among the socially and economically underprivileged sections of the state. It is exactly to check this menace that Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday announced that the state government, in its attempt to keep its commitment of eradicating the menace of child marriage from Assam, has issued a stern warning that very soon thousands of men will be put behind bars for the offence of marrying under-age girls. Sarma has said that the government was firm against child marriage because this practice contributes to high incidence of both maternal and infant mortality. It is important that a massive campaign is urgently launched in the state to tackle this menace of child marriage. The dangerous fall-out of child marriage can have long-lasting impact in the children born out of such marriages, and also seriously affect the health and life of the women who get married at an early age and start producing children. Such a campaign should not be confined only to government advertisements, television and radio jingles, roadside hoardings and so on, but should involve opinion leaders of the society, including those who head religious institutions and have an overwhelming influence over their followers. At the same time, stringent punitive measures should also be taken, with exemplary punishment sending out the desired warning among those who practice and promote such child marriages.

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