Against Child Marriage: Children Demand Their Rights For a Secure Future
KOLKATA, India, 24 February 2010 – Almost 225 children from across West Bengal gathered together today to launch a movement against child marriage called “Amar Shaishab Amar Adhikar,” (My Childhood, My Right) at a meeting jointly hosted by the Department of Women and Child Development & Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal and UNICEF in Kolkata.
While progress is being made to reduce child marriage in the state, the pace of change is slow and it remains an unacceptable reality. According to the Third National Family Health Survey, every second girl is married in childhood in West Bengal. Of all teenage girls 15-19 years in the state, one-third are mothers. The manifesto gathers together for the first time views of children on child marriage and translates them into tangible actions for parents, teachers and communities.
“Rights can be declared and policies formulated, but unless laws are actually implemented, they will have little effect. All our efforts as partners are meaningless if the lives of disadvantaged, vulnerable children, their families and communities are not improved,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF India Representative. “We need to have a zero-tolerance policy towards child marriage, so that every child, boy and girl, has the opportunity to live their childhood and gain an education.”
UNICEF efforts to prevent child marriage in West Bengal have included supporting a pilot intervention in Malda district which has the highest number of child marriages in the state.