In India, police have taken more than 2000 men into custody in a crackdown against illegal child marriages.
Police said that more than 50 Hindu priests were arrested along with Muslim clerics. They were accused of performing marriages for girls younger than 18 years in Assam, the northeastern state.
Many Assam child marriages go unreported.
India allows men to marry at 21 years old, while women can do so at 18 years.
Television footage showed young women holding infants in their arms, crying out against their husbands’ sudden arrests.
One woman asked, “We were struggling to make ends meet.” We were still happy together. My husband was arrested. Who will take care of our daily needs?
Gyanendra Pratap Singh, chief of the State Police, stated that child marriages are one reason for high infant mortality and maternal deaths in the state.
Himanta Biswa Saarma, the top state elected official, stated: “I have requested the Assam police that they act in a spirit of absolute tolerance against the unpardonable, heinous crimes on women.”
India’s parliament has proposed raising the age for marriage for women to 21 years in order to make it more comparable with men and encourage gender equality.
Child marriages are common in the country due to poverty, low education, and poor social norms and practices, especially in rural areas.