Assam to launch 'State Mission' against child marriage, put end to the menace by 2026

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Guwahati, Mar 16 (PTI) The Assam government on Thursday said it will launch a ‘State Mission' for Rs 200 crore to “completely” eliminate child marriage by 2026.

Presenting the budget for 2023-24, Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said curbing child marriages in the state has not only become a necessity, but an urgency, too, which is why the government launched a mass drive against the violators of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006.

"To sustain the efforts, our government is committed to launch this State Mission with a target of making Assam free of incidents of child marriage by the end of 2026.

"This new mission is being worked out by the Women and Child Development Department with an allocation of Rs 200 crore," she said.

Under the mission, all gram panchayat secretaries in Assam are being designated as child marriage prevention officers, who will ensure prohibition of such marriages, protection of the victims as well as prosecution of the offenders, Neog said.

"It will operate in a time-bound manner and link all programs and services that are working for women and children, for effective implementation of special legislations such as PCMA, POCSO Act 2012, Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act, 2015 and Right to Education Act, 2009," the minister said.

The mission will include collaboration with relevant line departments, stakeholders like NGOs and Samaritan volunteers, and it will specifically focus on surveillance, strengthening institutions, introduction of helplines, and rehabilitation of victims, Neog said.

"There will be a call centre to monitor the complaints. Being a woman and a mother, I call upon everyone to act sternly against this injustice meted out to our daughters," she said.

The finance minister also asserted that the police force will continue to conduct intensive drives every six months to take necessary action against the offenders.

"High maternal and infant mortality rates are major healthcare issues in this part of the country. We have been sincerely addressing these concerns and could reduce our maternal mortality from 237 in the year 2014-16 to 195 in 2018-20," she said.

Accordingly, the infant mortality rate dropped from 49 in 2014 to 36 in 2020, Neog informed the House. PTI TR RBT RBT