Over 2,000 arrested in anti-child marriage crackdown in India

Over 2000 arrested in anti-child marriage crackdown in India


More than 2,000 people were arrested in northeast India on Friday in a crackdown on the illegal practice of child marriage, police have learned.

India has more than 220 million underage brides, according to UN figures, but the number of child marriages has fallen sharply since the turn of the century.

The two-week campaign in the state of Assam began on Friday after the state's Prime Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, appealed for public help to abolish an “evil practice”.

According to Mr. Sarma, almost one in eight women in the state of Assam has been pregnant before the age of 18, resulting in high infant and maternal mortality rates.

State Police Superintendent GP Singh said 2,044 people had been arrested, including 52 priests and local officials who permitted child marriages.

Mr. Singh said girls were married as young as 12 to men. According to him, the police have identified a total of 4,074 cases to be investigated.

The legal age of marriage in India is 18, but millions of children are still forced to marry younger, especially in poor rural areas.

Many parents marry off their children in the hope of improving their financial security.

The consequences of these marriages can be devastating, as girls have to leave school to cook and clean for their husbands, while suffering health problems related to teenage pregnancies.

In 2017, the Court India's Supreme Court has ruled that having sex with a minor is necessarily rape, even if the couple is married, a decision hailed by human rights activists.