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27 August 2001
11 October 2012
UNIC/PRESS RELEASE/129-2012

 

Four UN agencies urge India’s Minister of Women and Child Development to take incremental action against child marriages in India

 

New Delhi: On the occasion of the first International Day of the Girl Child (observed on 11 October 2012), the heads of four UN agencies in India called on India’s Minister of Women and Child Development  to take the lead in pressing for incremental action to fight the scourge of child marriages in the country.

 

In their letter to Minister Mrs. Krishna Tirath, the heads of UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women and UN Information Centre wrote:

 

Today, 11 October, 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 United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on 19 December 2011 to declare 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, calling all member countries to recognize the rights of girls.

 

More than 40% 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.  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, jeopardizes her health and therefore constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal and the development of healthy communities.

 

The UN calls upon the Government of India to give urgent attention to addressing child marriage and seeks political commitment to work toward the goal of ending this harmful practice.

 

There is an urgent need to raise awareness on the negative consequences of child marriage for girls and for society as a whole. 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 education of girls and giving them skills to become economically empowered.”

 

Jointly signed by:

 

Ms. Frederika Meijer

Country Representative, UN Population Fund  (UNFPA)

 

Mr. Louis-Georges Arsenault

Representative, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

 

Ms. Anne Stenhammer

Regional Programme Director, UN Women, South Asia Sub Regional Office

 

Mrs. Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman

Director, UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan

unicindia@unicindia.org

 

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