NEW DELHI (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) — Four United Nations agencies Thursday called on India to take action against child marriages on the first International Day of the Girl Child.
The appeal came against the backdrop of recent reports of several young girls being raped in northern India, and comments by some village council leaders that the legal age of marriage for girls be lowered from the current 18 years in order to avoid incidents of rape.
The first U.N. International Day of the Girl Child focuses on child marriage. The United Nations says more than 40 percent of such marriages worldwide take place in India.
“Child marriage is not a solution to protecting girls from sexual crimes including rape,” said the U.N. agencies in a letter to India’s Women and Child Development Minister.
“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,” the letter said.
The United Nations said it was committed to working with the Indian government to end the practice.
The letter was signed by the country heads of the United Nations Children’s Fund, U.N. Population Fund, U.N. Women’s South Asia office and the U.N. Information Centre for India and Bhutan.
Four monuments — three in the Indian capital New Delhi and one in the southern city of Hyderabad — were to be illuminated in pink to mark the day.