India's stand in UN on child marriages upsets CPI-M leader
India's refusal to sign the first-ever global resolution for elimination and prevention of forced child marriages has made a woman Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader from Kerala write to the prime minister.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, T.N. Seema of the CPI-M, a first time Rajya Sabha member, has expressed her displeasure while criticising the country's stand over the UN resolution.
The motion was adopted during the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Sep 27.
Seema has pointed out that despite having the highest number of child brides -- about 24 million, representing 40 percent of the 60 million child brides in the world, India did not support such a resolution at the UN.
Seema, who teaches in a college, has urged the prime minister to look into the matter so that "India supports the UN resolution and the union government dispels any wrong notions caused by the non-signing of the resolution about India's commitment to protecting the rights of children, especially girls".
In her letter, Seema says the resolution was supported by over 107 countries, including almost all countries with high rates of child marriage, "but India ... has reportedly not supported the resolution".
She says "the reason as to why our country, which had restrained child marriages below the age of 18 for girls as early as 1978 and passed a law in 2006 banning marriage of girls under the age of 18, has taken such a stand at the UN forum is most perplexing".
As the international community continues to discuss the MDGs and takes steps towards an inclusive world free from violence, discrimination and human rights violation, "it is shocking that our country which is already lagging behind in achieving of many of MDGs, has chosen to ignore the rights of millions of girls", she says.
Seema has pointed out that recently, in states like Kerala and West Bengal, "there have been attempts by some groups to dilute the implementation of the Child Marriage Prohibition Act by deliberately initiating discussions on the need to remove the minimum marriage age restrictions as per the law, citing contradictions with personal laws".
(Posted on 14-10-2013)