government on Monday directed all the departments concerned to conduct an extensive study on the prevalence of child marriage in the state in consultation with the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation and Unicef.
According to the annual health survey report of 2010-11, at least 10 districts in Assam have showed high incidence of child marriage. The report added that Dhubri showed an alarming 60.6% child marriage rate. Several districts, including Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Karimganj, Baksa, Dhemaji, Nagaon, Dibrugarh and Karbi Anglong, also showed high rates of child marriage.
A senior official in the state CID said, despite the high prevalence of child marriage, very few complaints were registered. “It’s the same across the country. The number of registered cases of child marriage is negligible. Registration of such cases depends on the victims feeling a sense of injustice and having easy access to redressal systems. When both factors are missing, people do not complain.”
In July, Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi had urged the state government to adopt an action plan to curb child trafficking in the region. He said his foundation would set up a rehabilitation fund in Assam for children who are trafficked and engaged as bonded labourers.
“A state-level advisory council, headed by the chief minister, will be constituted to review the progress of the ‘State Convergent Plan of Action for Child Abuse’ that will be implemented in partnership with Unicef,” an official statement said. A mechanism will be put in place to fast-track cases related to child abuse, Gogoi said.
Gogoi has asked for comprehensive enforcement of laws to ensure the safety of children and women.