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Crackdown on child marriage in India, 1,000 arrested

Published : 03 Oct 2023 09:28 PM

More than 1,000 people were arrested Tuesday in India's remote northeast during the second government crackdown on illegal child marriages in the region this year, authorities said.

India is home to more than 220 million child brides, according to UN figures,  but the number of child weddings has fallen dramatically this century.

Assam state had already arrested 4,000 people in an earlier abolition drive  in February, including parents of married couples and registrars who signed  off on underage betrothals.

The state's chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that police had  launched a second phase of the campaign "in a special operation which began  in the early hours of dawn".

"The number of arrests is likely to rise," he wrote in a post on X, formerly  Twitter. "The number now stands at 1,039."

Sarma has campaigned on a platform of stamping out child marriages completely 

in his state by 2026.

The legal marriage age in India is 18 but millions of children are forced to 

tie the knot when they are younger, particularly in poorer rural areas.

Many parents marry off their children in the hope of improving their 

financial security. 

The results can be devastating, with girls dropping out of school to cook and 

clean for their husbands and suffering health problems from giving birth at a 

young age.

In a landmark 2017 judgment, India's top court said that sex with an underage 

wife constituted rape, a ruling cheered by activists.