Will end child marriages in Assam by 2026: CM Sarma
On Monday, replying to a question raised by Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, Sarma said special drives against the menace would continue every few months till it gets eliminated
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in the assembly on Monday said that the state government would end child marriages in the state by 2026.
“By 2026, child marriages will end in Assam. We will take the strictest possible measures to ensure that,” Sarma said, adding that the Assam government has earmarked ₹200 crore in this year’s budget for the campaign against child marriages to enlist services of good lawyers, create awareness and set up helplines for victims.
The government began a crackdown on child marriage in February this year in which thousands were arrested while cases were registered against thousands more.
Also Read: ‘Every six months we will…’: CM Himanta’s action plan to curb child marriage in Assam
“Child marriage is a social scourge and we are committed to ensure this evil practice is stopped,” the Assam chief minister had said in February.
On Monday, replying to a question raised by Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, Sarma said special drives against the menace would continue every few months till it gets eliminated.
He further said that the state will work for the rehabilitation of the victims by providing scholarships, free education, and all other benefits of government schemes. “We have a detailed plan in place to see that child marriages end within the set deadline,” CM Sarma said.
On the question of how provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act could be imposed against those accused of child marriages, Sarma said that the law is applicable even against the “husbands” of girls who are below 16 years of age.
“Police are duty bound to act against anyone who indulges in sexual acts against girls below 16 years. It may be difficult to prove sexual relations between a man and his wife who is below that age. But if a married woman below 16 years gives birth to a child, it is proof enough a crime has been committed,” said Sarma.
“We have to act as per its provisions till courts strike down POCSO Act. There is no other option,” Sarma said.
Also Read: Considering stringent legislation against child marriages: Sarma
“I believe 90% of cases where we have used provisions of POCSO Act against those arrested for child marriages will result in convictions, especially in cases where child brides under 16 years have given birth,” added the chief minister.
According to the state government, 50 persons were arrested in the state in 2017 under the POCSO Act, 106 persons were arrested in 2018, 156 persons in 2019, 216 in 2020, 166 in 2021, 257 in 2022, and 3,098 in the first two months of this year.