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Assam govt must provide financial assistance, legal support and rehabilitation to the victims : Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation said on Assam child marriage crackdown

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NEDP Staff Report: Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation- founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has welcomed the decisive action of the Assam government to eliminate and penalize child marriages in the state. The action by the state government is the first ever stringent step by any state government in the country to protect children by applying laws of the land in both letter and spirit. Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) has also demanded that the state government must provide special financial assistance, legal support and full rehabilitation to the victim.

KSCF has appealed for a fresh scheme that will fully support the victims, the scheme entails; first, immediate release of Rs. 2,000 per month from Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as financial assistance to every girl whose husband has been arrested and until he gets bail, secondly, State and District Legal Service Authority should be directed to grant interim compensation within a week to all girls where Police has invoked sections under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) along with section of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006, thirdly, girls should be given assistance if they wish to declare their marriage null and void and lastly, assistance should be given to children born out the child marriage who are entitled for support under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.

On 3 February, the Assam Police had launched statewide crackdown on child marriage, with over 2,000 people, including Hindu and Muslim priests who officiated these weddings, arrested within the first two days.

The arrests are being carried out on the basis of 4,135 FIRs registered across the state. The state government has formed a cabinet sub-committee on the rehabilitation of “victims” of child marriage, and Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma’s cabinet colleagues Ranoj Pegu, Keshab Mahanta and Ajanta Neog have been named as members of the panel.

On February 6, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the drive against child marriage is for public health and public welfare as teenage pregnancy ratio in Assam is quite alarming at 16.8 percent. “We’re resolved to continue this drive until we fulfil our objective. I urge the people to cooperate with us in controlling this harmful trend,” he said.