Assam govt forms committee for rehabilitation of child marriage victims
In the first seven days, Assam police arrested 2,789 individuals under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 and The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012. The chief minister on Friday repeated that the crackdown will continue further
After seven days of the crackdown on child marriage against the husbands and family members, the Assam government on Thursday formed a committee to finalise policy on compensating the victims of “forced child marriage.”
Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in a state cabinet on Thursday appointed three cabinet ministers to finalise a draft within 15 days.
“We have constituted a Cabinet Sub-Committee to finalise a Rehabilitation Policy within 15 days for victims of child marriage,” he wrote on Twitter.
The sub-committee includes Health Minister Keshab Mahanta, Education Minister Ranoj Pegu and Finance Minister Ajanta Neog.
Pegu said that the committee will study various cases before concluding how to rehabilitate the minor girls who were married off forcibly.
“We have started studying the cases and within a few days, we’ll submit our proposal to the state government,” he said.
Meanwhile, complementing the Assam police for its campaign against child marriage, the Assam cabinet on Thursday further directed it to continue with the clampdown.
In the first seven days, Assam police arrested 2,789 individuals under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 and The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012. The chief minister on Friday repeated that the crackdown will continue further.
The senior officials of Assam police said that they are acting on 4,135 cases registered across the state. The CM on Wednesday hinted that they are attempting to arrest at least 4,000 accused.
“We have found around 8,000 accused but almost half of them are aged persons suffering from health issues. We’ll leave 4000 accused with a warning but the rest of them will be jailed,” Sarma said to the media on Thursday.
Meanwhile, many have also protested against the state’s policy. Family members of the arrested persons have raised questions about how they are going to survive when the main earning member of their family would be behind the bars.
To this, Sarma on Wednesday said, “We need to sacrifice a bit to secure the futures of lakhs of girls.” A day later, the Assam cabinet proposed a rehabilitation policy to compensate the victims of child marriage.
Opposition parties however alleged that the state government is creating fear and as a result, young mothers are suffering more.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi on Friday said that due to fear created by the Assam CM, pregnant girls under 18 years of age are trying to deliver their child at home, not going to the hospitals.
“They are trying not to go to the hospitals as their husbands and family members can be arrested. This is a negative impact of the crackdown which the state government is not looking at,” he said.
Notably, an 18-year-old girl died in Bongaigaon on February 5 while giving birth to her first child. Police later arrested her husband and her father.
Health officials said that the family members initially attempted to deliver the baby at home and it worsened her health condition. They brought her to a government hospital, but it was late, they said.
Muslim Women Development Society, Hyderabad, president Asma Zehra Tayeba on Friday appealed to the Assam government to stop harassing young women in the name of the law.
Sharing Twitter saying, “We can see wives crying and suffering. This is not a proper manner to address a social issue. Government should discuss with various sections of society to find an appropriate solution.”
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Priyank Kanoongo however praised the government for strictly implementing an existing law and suggested other states follow the same.
“People respect the laws when the government agencies implement them properly. Assam Government is doing it right and I’d suggest the other states to follow this,” he told the media on Friday.