By Emmanuel Nduka
The Indian Government has arrested more than 1,000 people in the country’s remote northeast during the second crackdown on illegal child marriages in the region this year, authorities said.
According to UN figures, the country is home to more than 220 million child brides, but the number of child weddings has fallen dramatically this century.
Assam State had already arrested 4,000 people, including parents of married couples and registrars who signed off on underage betrothals, in an earlier abolition drive in February.
The state’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that police had launched a second phase of the campaign “in a special operation which began in the early hours of dawn”.
“The number of arrests is likely to rise. The number now stands at 1,039,”he wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
Sarma has campaigned on a platform of stamping out child marriages completely in his state by 2026.
In India, the legal marriage age is 18, but millions of children are forced to tie the knot when they are younger, particularly in poorer rural areas.
Many parents marry off their children in the hope of improving their financial security.
The results can be devastating, with girls dropping out of school to cook and clean for their husbands and suffering health problems from giving birth at a young age.
In a landmark judgment in 2017, India’s top court said that sex with an underage wife constituted rape, a ruling cheered by activists.