The Bihar government on Thursday (July 28) released a directive stating that if child marriage is reported from a village, the mukhiya concerned will be held responsible for the forbidden act.
The directive issued by the Panchayati Raj department noted that the government would also commence proceedings to terminate the village head and ward members of the panchayat concerned.
An excerpt from the directive read, "If child marriage is reported from a particular locality, the concerned mukhiya, elected by the village-level constitutional body of local self-government, will be held responsible for such illegal marriage," quoted NDTV.
What Did Minister For Panchayati Raj Say?
The Panchayati raj department asked all district collectors to enforce the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act strictly.
Samrat Choudhary, the Minister for Panchayati Raj, said that generally, mukhiyas issue marriage certificates in villages; therefore, it becomes their duty to check child marriages in their areas.
Choudhary said that if child marriage occurs in an area, it is the responsibility of the mukhiya concerned to promptly notify the police administration so that proper action can be taken.
He said, "Strict implementation of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and anti-dowry law are the top priority of our government."
The district authorities were also asked to brief village heads about their role in curbing child marriages.
Child Marriage In Bihar
Child marriage, considered a violation of human rights, is a prevalent sight in India that many activists have been campaigning against. The country has seen improvements in early marriage levels in the last two decades, with states such as Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh exhibiting the best results.
However, persistent gender inequities have hindered progress in curbing child marriage in certain states such as Tripura, West Bengal, and especially Bihar, where over two out of five women continue to marry early.
From 2015-16 to 2019-20, 10 out of 37 districts in the state witnessed a rise in the early marriage of girls, with seven districts recording an alarming increment of over 5 percentage points. Conversely, 11 districts saw more than five percentage points reductions in their early marriage prevalence.
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