In order to prevent child marriages in India, men who have married with children are detained. This is what separates families from each other.
Nureja Khatun, 19, was waiting outside the police station with her 6-month-old baby in her arms. The woman's wish was to see her husband as soon as possible before the police took him to court.
About an hour later, she was able to see her husband, Akbar Ali, for a few seconds when he was put in the police van. The officer slammed the door in his face before the woman could say anything. “Please release my husband. Otherwise take me into custody as well,” she pleaded.
Khatun’s husband is one of more than 3,000 men, including Hindu and Muslim priests, who were arrested nearly two weeks ago in the northeastern state of Assam under a wide crackdown on illegal child marriages involving girls under the age of 18.The situation saddened Khatun and hundreds of other women who married under the age of 18 like him.
The situation saddened Khatun and hundreds of other women who married under the age of 18 like her.Khatun fled to Ali when he was 17. The couple had a child six months ago.
The breadwinner of the family was his wife. So, “Now there is no one to feed us. I don't know if my family can survive,” she protested.
Strict measures are now being taken in the state, where child marriage cases are common. Only 155 cases of child marriages in Assam were registered in 2021, and 138 in 2020, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
The legal age of marriage in India is 21 for men and 18 for women. Child marriage is common in the country due to poverty and lack of education.
UNICEF estimates that at least 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India every year, making it home to the largest number of child brides in the world — accounting for a third of the global total.
India’s National Health Family Survey data shows that more than 31% of marriages registered in Assam involve the prohibited age group.