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India.. 1,800 men arrested in a campaign to end child marriage


Police in India’s eastern state of Assam have arrested more than 1,800 men who married or arranged the marriage of underage girls, at the start of what the state’s chief minister today described as a continuing campaign to stamp out the practice.

Hemanta Biswa Sarma told Reuters that the police started the arrests yesterday evening and more people are likely to be arrested, including those who help register such marriages in temples and mosques.

“Child marriage is the main reason behind childbearing, which in turn is responsible for the high mortality rates of mothers and children,” he said.

Marriage under the age of 18 is illegal in India, but residents openly flout the law.

The United Nations estimates that India has the largest number of underage wives in the world and that the number is about 223 million. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report dating back to 2020 that nearly 1.5 million underage girls are married there each year.

“From Muslims to Hindus, Christians, tribal people and members of high society, men of all religions and sects are being arrested for committing this heinous social crime,” Sarma said.

He added that the Assam government had filed cases related to minor marriages against 4,004 people.