Brides are supposed to be happy, and there is an added factor for happiness in Assam!
The Finance Minister of Assam has declared a new scheme for brides from January 1st 2020. According to this scheme, each bride aged 18 years or more will be given a fixed amount for the purchase of 10 grams of gold by the state government. The scheme is called "Arundhati Swarna Yojana". This will cost the state government about Rs 800 Crore per annum.
Child marriages in Assam are rising rapidly. A shocking report reveals that the number of child marriages in Assam for the year 2017-18 was 317, whereas it was 32 in 2015-16 and 96 in 2016-17. About 150 cases had already been registered for the year 2018-19. In most cases, marriage is usually an agreement between the poor family and the rich family of the bride and groom respectively.
Children are not aware of the concept of marriage and are forced to experience it without their consent. Girls are not safe in the hands of their husbands who ill-treat them and sell them in most cases. These girls go through severe mental trauma says the social welfare department. This is an important social issue that the government must consider and take a call on.
Each year approximately 3,00,000 marriages take place in Assam, but only 50,000 to 60,000 marriages are registered legally.
The main objective of the Arundhati Gold Scheme is to reduce the number of child marriages in Assam and have more marriages registered legally. In order to avail of the benefits of this scheme, the marriage has to be registered. Only once the verification process is complete would the scheme be available. No minor can register for a legal marriage under the special marriage act of 1954, thereby reducing child marriages.
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This is a great initiative by the state government of Assam to reduce child marriages and bride trafficking. It helps uplift the backward and poorer sections of society. Often, uneducated poor families believe, marrying off their daughter to a rich family will financially secure her future. But the important fact is that they forget to consider her mental and physical health.
At times, families marry child brides off in return for money to settle their liabilities. Brides from Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand are sold in Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan. Government records are not available on the same, but thousands of such cases are happening each year across the country.
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Therefore, such a scheme would surely reduce the number of child marriages. This must be opted by other states facing the same problem. Social awareness camps must be conducted in rural areas to make people understand the adverse effects of child marriage. In this era of digital access, the government must take steps to create educational videos on such sensitive topics and publish them. This is the most cost-effective way of reaching out to the masses.
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