In a bid to end the harmful practice of child marriage across Maharashtra, the Women and Child Development (WCD) department has now decided to propose amendments and improvements to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Rules, 2008. Officials said they have formed a 10-member expert committee on Monday in which they will be considering issues like treating survivors of child marriages as children in need and care under the Juvenile Justice Act 2015. WCD commissioner said there is a need to strengthen the system to end child marriages as during lockdown they were able to stop 214 child marriages.
Yashomati Thakur, WCD commissioner said Former Mayor of Mumbai Nirmala Samant Prabhawalkar will chair the 10-member expert committee. The committee, which also includes UNICEF child protection consultant Alpa Vora, among others, is expected to suggest incentives to strengthen the administrative structure against child marriages. It has to submit a report within 20 days.
“The Juvenile Justice Act divides children who are minors and have committed crimes under the Indian Penal Code, and those who need care and protection. These children are placed at state-run protection homes till an age where they can fend for themselves,” she said.
Moreover, the WCD department was able to stop 214 child marriages, said the minister. “Recently, at a meeting in Yavatmal, I was informed that 28 child marriages were stopped in the district,” Thakur added.
While Maharashtra’s child marriage rate has declined from 47.7 percent in 1998-1999 (National Family Health Survey 2) to 26.3 percent in 2015-2016 (National Family Health Survey 4), the matter deserved “serious attention”, said Thakur. “There are more than 17 districts in the state where the prevalence of child marriage is greater than the state average of 26.3 percent,” said the WCD minister.
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