By: Shubham Ghosh
With thousands of arrests being made in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam by the local government in a crackdown on child marriage, pregnant teenage girls/women are too scared to go for the reproductive care that they need, reports said.
It has been reported that these girls/women are afraid to go to hospitals even as dates for delivering the baby are approaching fast for they are worried that the administration would go after their families if their age of getting married gets leaked.
Some of the pregnant teens have even stopped contacting ASHA or accredited social health activists from their villages in a bid to avoid the authorities.
The reports have even said that some of the teenage girls are even going to local clinics to undergo abortion in order to save their husbands and other family members from prosecution.
ASHA workers have spoken about the atmosphere of distrust and fear in villages and the hostility they have faced from the local people since police have visited the villages and taken action. The ASHA workers are the ones who keep a track of pregnancies and immunisation programmes in the rural areas of India and compile statistics on them.
Experts have warned that the situation might affect vaccination drives for infants and pregnant women in the state’s rural areas. Also, non-institutional deliveries of babies, which is already a challenge in Assam, might also witness a rise.
On February 9, the Bharatiya Janata Party government of Assam set up a committee after seven days of crackdown on child marriage to finalise a policy on compensating victims of forced child marriage, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported.