Guwahati: A consultation to prevent child marriage was conducted in Assam on Tuesday as the state has been recording a rise in such cases over the last couple of years.
It was held as part of Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation (KSCF)’s “Child Marriage-Free India” campaign, a press release said.
As per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2021, Assam saw an increase in child marriages from 30.8% to 31.8% in 2019-21 period.
The National Family Health Survey-V (NFHS 2019-21) has reported that the percentage of child marriage victims nationally has decreased to 23.3% in 2019-20 from 26.8% in 2015-16.
Nationally, 23.3% women between the age group of 20-24 were married off before attaining the age of 18, as per the NFHS latest report.
According to Census 2011, in Assam, 2.6 lakh children were married off before turning 18 years making it among the top 15 states in the country.
In this background of rising cases of child marriages in the state, it is essential that strict vigilance and measures should be taken to stop the practice, the release said.
A consultation was held here to mobilise all stakeholders involved in child protection to help in the realisation of Child Marriage-Free India, with the KSCF co-organising the meet with the Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA).
Among the key points discussed at the state-level consultation were appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officer (CMPO), mandatory FIR registration in cases of child marriage and incentivising parents to motivate them to not marry their under-age children.
Speaking on the occasion, Rajib Sarma, founder of the NGO Gold Global Organisation For Life Development, said, “What we are seeing today in Assam with regard to child marriage is only the tip of the iceberg. The situation needs to be tackled collectively at the earliest by all concerned stakeholders.”
Highlighting the adverse impact of child marriage, KC George, executive director of POCSO, KSCF, said, “Child marriage is an evil existing in our society and should be looked as a crime against children. It obstructs the complete development of children.”
“All stakeholders like government agencies and law enforcement agencies must make collective effort to stop the practice. In this regard, our organisation under the leadership of Kailash Satyarthi will work closely with the state government, law enforcement agencies and civil society groups towards a child-marriage free Assam,” he said.
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