Thursday, October 11, 2012, 19:30
New Delhi: Observing that more than 40 percent of the child marriages in the world occur in India, the heads of four UN agencies in India on Thursday called upon the government to pay urgent attention to this and work toward the goal of ending the "harmful practice".
The heads of UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women and UN Information Centre on Thursday wrote to Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath on the issue of child marriage to mark the first International Day of the Girl Child.
The UN agencies asked the Indian government to take the lead in pressing for incremental action to fight the scourge of child marriages in the country.
"Today, October 11, is the UN's first International Day of the Girl Child. For its first observance, this year's day focuses on child marriage, which is a fundamental human rights violation and impacts all aspects of a girl's life," the letter read.
"More than 40 percent of the world's child marriages happen in India. In eight states of the country, more than half of young girls are married before the age of 18," the letter said.
"Child marriage is not a solution to protecting girls from sexual crimes including rape. In fact, child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk to be a victim of violence, jeopardises her health and, therefore, constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal and the development of healthy communities," the letter stressed.
"There is an urgent need to raise awareness on the negative consequences of child marriage for girls and for society as a whole, " the letter said, adding the UN "re-affirms its commitment to working hand in hand with the Government of India to deliver a multi-sectoral response to addressing child marriage, including strengthening law enforcement, investing in the...