Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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NHRC notice to Maharashtra chief secretary, 8 collectors over rising instances of child marriage

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday issued notices to the Maharashtra chief secretary and the collectors of eight districts of the Marathwada region over the reported rising instances of child marriage.

The commission took suo motu cognizance of a newspaper article highlighting the malpractice of child marriage prevailing in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra due to which a large number of women are forced to lead a miserable life, the NHRC said in a statement, adding that the article has documented the plight of some child marriage victims in the region.

Most children go to school only for six months a year

The statement cited a media report published on December 21 that claimed that amid social instability, financial constraints, lack of education, rigid religious and caste-based rituals/traditions, lack of natural resources, drought conditions, and reckless attitude of the government agencies, the number of child marriages has been rising in the region.

“It has also been mentioned that most children go to school only for six months a year and for the remaining period, they keep working in the sugarcane fields for their livelihood,” the statement said citing a media report.

The article claims that as per the data, there has been a sharp rise in the number of cases of child marriages after the Covid pandemic

NHRC calls for detailed report in the matter

“The Commission has observed that the contents of the article about the plight of the victims of child marriages, if true, amount to a violation of human rights relating to their life, liberty, dignity, and equality of the poor people especially, the women in the Marathwada region,” the statement said.

Accordingly, the commission issued notices to the chief Secretary, government of Maharashtra, and the district collectors of Jalna, Aurangabad, Parbhani, Hingoli, Nanded, Latur, Osmanabad, and Beed in the State, calling for a detailed report in the matter including the steps taken/ proposed to be taken to address the issue raised in the news report.

The NHRC seeks response within 6 weeks from the issuance of the orders.

“The Commission has also asked its special rapporteur, P.N. Dixit to visit the Marathwada region; collect data, make an in-depth study of the problem of child marriage and suggest measures within 3 months for better implementation of the law in force,” the statement added.

Govt needs to be more vigilant to fight this social evil: NHRC

The commission noted that despite the provisions for punishment with rigorous imprisonment extending upto 2 years, and the fine upto Rs.1 lakh in the case of the marriage of a male of lower than 21 years and a female lower than 18 years, the incidents of child marriage are reportedly happening in many parts of the country.

It has further observed that government agencies have to be more vigilant and active to take effective steps to fight this social evil. “The plight of the young girls/women who are falling prey to the lack of infrastructure and apathy of the government agencies as mentioned in the article is indeed a matter of concern,” the statement said.

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