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Year-End Review-2021: Bills and amendments related to women and children

On December 27, the Ministry of Women and Child Development released its Year-End Review-2021. Over the course of 2021, the Ministry of Women and Child Development took a number of steps, including introducing legislation to raise the marriageable age of women to 21, addressing rising malnutrition during the pandemic, and ensuring the safety and rehabilitation of over a lakh children who lost one or both parents to Covid.

 PM CARES Fund for children suffering from COVID-19:
In spite of Covid-19 being less harmful to children, almost 1.32 lakh of them lost both or a parent, putting them at an increased risk of being exploited and trafficked, which is a serious concern for the ministry. About 9,800 children were orphaned, 508 abandoned, and 1.32 lakh lost one or both parents during the pandemic. Among the 6,098 applications received, 3,481 children who were orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic have been approved for payments under the ‘PM CARES for Children’ initiative.

According to a statement, there were 6,098, of which 3,481 had been approved by district magistrates, on the PM CARES for Children portal as of December 24. Moreover, it stated that 3,275 beneficiaries had their post office accounts opened as part of the scheme. Sponsorship of Rs 2,000 per child per month is offered under the scheme for non-institutional child care, while a maintenance grant of Rs 2,160 per child per month is provided for children in child care institutions.

Nirbhaya Fund:
According to the ministry, 704 ‘One Stop Centers’ or ‘Sakhi Centers’ have been set up in 34 states/UTs. Furthermore, two proposals worth Rs 114.89 crore was approved for opening One-Stop Centers (OSC) in India Missions abroad, Rs 40 crore during the current financial year 2021-22. This program will provide critical care and support to rape/gang-rape survivors and young girls who become pregnant.

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Juvenile Justice & Child Marriage Bill:
Bills to amend the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021, and the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2021, have been filed this year. To combat child marriage, the government introduced the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2021. This raised the marriageable age for women to 21 from 18 years old, eliciting mixed reactions from academics and activists.

This measure was introduced in the Lok Sabha to make the marriage age uniform for both men and women at 21 years old. A standing committee has been formed to examine the bill. According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021, the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, will be amended to expand the role of district magistrates and additional district magistrates in cases concerning child care and adoption. The legislation has been passed by Parliament and is now in effect.


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