Global Activists Urge End to Child Marriage

Posted February 9th, 2012 at 5:15 pm (UTC-5)
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A group of prominent activists from around the world known as “The Elders” arrived in India Thursday to take a stand against the practice of child marriage.

The group's chairman, South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said in New Delhi the initiative “Girls, not Brides” is intended to help India tap into its true potential.

Ireland's first female president, Mary Robinson, said child marriage attracted the group's attention because of the sheer number of children affected globally. She said ten million girls a year are forced into marriages worldwide.

Although child marriage is illegal in India, studies show that about 30 percent of those 10 million girls who get married under the age of 18 live in India. The practice is often ascribed to ancient religious traditions and the mindset that views daughters as a liability to be sent away from the household as early as possible.

Norway's first female prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, said she wants to emphasize “damaging effects of child marriage on young bodies, and even on the infants that an early pregnancy leads to.”

The Elders is an independent group of former world leaders who seek to use their influence to end major causes of human suffering around the world.

“Girls, not Brides” groups together grass roots organizations from more than 80 countries.