Assam government’s crackdown against child marriages resulted in protests in many places. Many of the police stations in Southern Assam experienced major protests by women whose husbands were arrested.
The women claimed that their husbands are the only bread earner of their family, and they will die of hunger without them. They opposed the government saying that they got married by their own wish and now they don’t have anybody to look after their children with their husbands gone.
In response, Assam’s Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated, “We will create a rehabilitation fund for the victims. The Assam government and the Central government have various poverty alleviation schemes. We will try to bring the victims back to the education system.”
Sarma addressed the issue of teenage pregnancies followed by early marriages. He also talked about how an early marriage affects a girl mentally.
“There is zero sympathy in these matters. After a young girl is married and goes through… I will have to call it rape… have we thought of the suffering the girl goes through? In order to save lakhs of girls from this situation in the future, one generation will have to suffer. There is no question of sympathy here… Child marriage has to stop in Assam and action against it will continue. I have told District Collectors that if anyone has financial troubles because their husbands are in jail, the government can look into it,” he said.
The fear of arrest also brought forth some tragic cases. One of them is a 16 year-old girl committing suicide in Cachar district who was a minor and got married by her own will.
Also in many districts, women were ready to give up all government aids for the release of their husbands.
The issue of child marriage cannot be resolved by legal measures only. It is a social issue and it has to be addressed by keeping all the social aspects in mind. There are several reasons for early marriage in Assam and the major issue is that girls are seen to have no other roles outside the household work and giving birth, since social standards put less emphasis on them in comparison to boys.
So, this social evil should be eliminated from our society as soon as possible. The most effective way to eliminate it is with education and public awareness.