Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma reiterated the state government’s unwavering commitment to eliminating the social menace of child marriage by 2026, highlighting that over 5,000 individuals have already been apprehended in this endeavour. Speaking on the matter, he emphasised, “Child marriage is a social evil, which also manifests undesirable health outcomes such as high infant and maternal mortality rates.”
The Chief Minister expressed optimism about the positive impact of the crackdown, particularly in the realm of women and child health. “Our efforts have yielded encouraging results, and by 2026, Assam aims to put an end to this abhorrent practice,” he declared. Sarma underscored the state’s challenge, noting that Assam currently faces higher infant mortality rates (IMR) and maternal mortality rates (MMR) than the national average, with certain districts exhibiting a more pronounced prevalence.
Attributing the high IMR and MMR to child marriage, Sarma disclosed that in 2020, the under-5 mortality rate in the state was 40 per cent, surpassing the national average of 32 per cent. To combat this concerning trend, the state government has undertaken various measures, including the arrest of more than 5,000 individuals in a massive crackdown against child marriage.
Additionally, gram panchayat secretaries have been designated as Child Marriage Prevention (Prohibition) Officers, reinforcing the government’s commitment to tackling the root causes of this social issue. The impact of these efforts is evident in the statistics, with a significant 33.4% decline in maternal deaths, dropping from 766 in 2021-22 to 510 in 2022-23. Similarly, child deaths have seen a substantial 14.7% decrease, falling from 7,872 in 2021-22 to 6,718 in 2022-23.
Chief Minister Sarma affirmed that the crackdown against child marriage and teenage pregnancy will persist until the government achieves its ambitious goal of complete eradication by 2026. This resolute stance underscores Assam’s commitment to securing a healthier and safer future for its women and children.
It should be mentioned that CM Himanta Biswa Sarma on September 9 had announced the relaunch of the crackdown against child marriage. He said that around 3000 people involved in child marriage will be arrested soon.
Earlier in February 2023, Assam police arrested around 4000 people accused of child marriage.
Assam police had registered 4,004 cases of child marriage based on complaints and data provided by competent authorities. All these cases were registered in less than a fortnight since the state cabinet decided on January 23 to take stern action against child marriage, with the arrest of offenders and a simultaneous launch of an extensive awareness campaign against the dangerous impact of child marriage on a girl’s life and on society as a whole. Out of these 4000 cases registered against child marriage, the highest was reported in Muslim majority districts Dhubri (370) and Hojai (255),Morigaon (224). There were a large number of cases registered in Udalguri (235), and Kokrajhar (204) districts which have a substantial number of Muslim population.