Thousands of men arrested in India for marrying underage girls
Indian police have arrested more than 2000 men in the northeastern state, including girls under the age of 18, as part of their fight against illegal child marriages. Writes about it CBS News.
More than 50 Hindu priests and Muslim clerics are among those arrested. They are accused of marrying underage girls in Assam, state police chief Gyanendra Pratap Singh said.
“So far, we have arrested 2169 people based on 4074 recorded police cases involving a total of about 8000 people,” Singh said.
Many cases of child marriage in Assam, a state of 35 million people, go unreported.
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According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were only 2021 cases of child marriage in the state in 155, compared to 2020 in 138.
In India, the legal age for marriage is 21 for men and 18 for women. Poverty, lack of education, social norms and customs, especially in rural areas, are considered the causes of child marriage throughout the country.
Television footage showed young women holding babies crying and protesting the sudden arrests of their husbands.
“Although we struggled and somehow made ends meet, we were happy together. Who will provide for us now that my husband has been arrested?” the young woman asked.
Singh said that child marriage was one of the reasons for the high child and maternal mortality rates in the state.
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“I have asked the Assam police to act in a zero-tolerance spirit for unforgivable and heinous crimes against women,” Himanta Biswa Sarma, a senior state official, tweeted.
The Indian Parliament is considering a bill to raise the age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 to bring it in line with the age of men and promote gender equality.
India's Women and Children's Minister Smriti Irani told Parliament that the move, in addition to achieving physical and psychological maturity, will allow girls to complete their education and achieve economic independence.
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