Monday, June 17, 2024

“Indiscriminate arrests not solution to child marriage”, Assam govt hunts Muslim families, alleges Muslim girls group

Indiscriminate arrests are not a solution to child marriage, said Girls Islamic Organisation while calling the state-wide crackdown in Assam “extremely shameful and condemnable.”

Assam government’s supposed women-friendly arrests are a menace to livelihood, the Muslim girls’ collective said.

The massive crackdown on child marriage that began on 03 February arrested over 2100 people of different ages, including 52 priests or qazis and some women. This comes after the state government decided to act on this issue in a decision taken on January 23. The police said they have a list of almost 8,000 accused. Most of the people booked are from marginal groups like Muslims and tribals.

“Laws must be accompanied by a comprehensive approach with policy and programmes focusing on redressal and not mere punishment. Most of the people arrested for child marriage belong to the socially, economically, and educationally weaker sections,” said National Federation of GIO president adv. Sumaiya Roshan.

She said: “This action has put a question mark on the future of the women and families which has also led to them protesting. More than 4000 FIRs were filed overnight and more than 3000 were arrested, most of them belonging to the Muslim community. The CM has asked the Assam police to ‘act with Zero spirit of tolerance’. Child marriage is indeed abhorrent and must be addressed urgently. However, this issue was never discussed by the ministry in the past 20 years. Student bodies that intended to initiate awareness campaigns received limited or no support. By the time survey was conducted most of the couples were already parents or expecting.”

“What the government fails to realize is that child marriage and under age pregnancies are more of a social issue than a legal one. The communities which have been historically deprived of standard living conditions were forced to choose parallel methds to protect and safeguard their children. They have little to no knowledge about laws such as POCSO or the Prevention of Child Marriage Act. The women here are dependent in every aspect on the men in their family, incarcerated by the state,” read GIO’s statement.

The current move of the state will further exacerbate or create numerous new social, economic and humanitarian issues at large, the GIO said.

The National Federation of GIO, a student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind urged that the government must hear the pleas of the women.

“Well-settled families shouldn’t be uprooted. Leaving women and children respiteless is by no means a fair move. Government must join hands with NGOs and studnt bodies and come up with a comprehensive, holistic and poor-friendly approach to this menace. It must see to it that the focus of this move is on soothing the scars, not on throttling lives. Long term developmnt and education oriented moves are urgent and much appreciated. Impartial steps in the field of education and reform must be taken,” it concluded.

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