Concerned over high rate of child marriage in Bihar, Nobel laureate and anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Ireland President Mary Robinson, former Norway Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and Gandhian and social activist Ela Bhatt, during their day-long visit to Bihar as members of The Elders, on Tuesday announced to work in the state to eradicate this social evil.
"The Elders have decided to focus its campaign against social evils such as child marriage .We will work here to eliminate that," Tutu told newspersons after he along with other members of The Elders visited Phuluar village under Masaurhi bloc in Patna district.
He said that The Elders chose Bihar as the state happens to have the highest prevalence (69 per cent) of marriage among girls under 18.
Bhatt said that The Elders will now do whatever possible to fight against child marriage in Bihar."
It is an age old practice against girl child,we will work together to end it"she said. Bhatt said that it was a life time experience to interact with local people about this issue."We have discussed with all including women, children and youths about child marraiage,all of them described it a bad practice," she said.
Robinson said that after talking with people, it appeared to us that locals were also opposed to this custom. It is a positive development to encourage people to join the campaign," Robinson said.
The initiative, 'Girls Not Bridges' has already brought together more than 80 civil society organisations from around the world, including 15 in India, to fight against child marriage.
Worldwide, an estimated 10 million girls are married before they turn 18 per year. That's 100 million girls over the next decade if current rate continues.
Child marriage is a global problem that occurs from the Middle East to the Americas, South Asia to Africa and Europe and cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities, they felt.
Child marriage hinders the achievement of 6 of the 8 millennium development goals, they said.