By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Feb 21: Child marriage in Guwahati is far from being passé, let alone the interior and backward areas in Assam. This is despite the fact that the literacy rate in Guwahati is well above the tiol average.
From May 2015 to February 15, 2017 as many as nine child marriages took place in Guwahati. There could be more such cases that have neither been reported nor come under the notice of watchdogs like Childline. Childline has recued all the nine children from their illegal wedlock.
On May 6, 2015 Childline rescued a girl from such an illegal wedlock from Bhaskar gar in the city. On January 28, 2016 the NGO under the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare rescued a boy and a girl from illegal wedlock in the Dhirenpara area in the city. A girl was also rescued on May 7, 2016 from Japorigog, a girl from Dhirenpara on May 23, 2016, a girl on June 14, 2016 from Dhirenpara, a girl on November 26, 2016 from Dhirenpara, a girl from Bhaskar gar on February 13, 2017 and a girl from Dhirenpara on February 15, 2017. The situation has reached such a pass that the girl who was rescued by Childline on February 17, 2017 from Dhirenpara had been rescued earlier by Railway Childline from the Railway Station on August 21, 2016 and handed over to her parents. This amply means that the parents held the marriage of their daughter twice within a year.
This is a matter to be reckoned with as such incidents seeing no end in Guwahati. After the rescue, Childline produces the children before Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
Centre coorditor of Childline, Guwahati, Nirmal Deka said: “The reformation movement against child marriage that was at its peak during British India is going on still now as the mece sees no end even today. Unlike in the past, now such incidents are being reported to us, and hence we can rescue children. In the 21st century we can’t say the people are not aware and illiterate. Yet such incidents do take place. This is certainly a matter to be reckoned with. There are also instances of love playing a key role in encouraging early marriage. When an under-aged boy and an under-aged girl are engaged to each other, their parents find their wedlock as a viable solution.”
The District Child Protection officer Binjumoni Das said: “The government may take various schemes to fight the mece. They, however, will bear no fruits if the general mass is not aware. In every case, CWC lodges complaint under the Child Protection Act. The District Child Protection unit extends counseling to the rescued children and their guardians as well. After the counseling, if the child feels secure to be with his/her parents/guardians, he/she is handed over to the guardians. If the child feels insecure, he/she is handed over to the Child Welfare Committee. Child marriage is going on frequently in areas domited by people belonging to the minority community. We’ve entrusted an NGO, Child Friendly, Guwahati to conduct a survey into child marriage in areas prone to the mece. They also bring about awareness among the general mass on ill effects of child marriage.”
What makes the guardians of a section of children opting for child marriage is something viewed with a different approach as the age-old method has not been able to arrest the trend.