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Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi launches nationwide campaign for “Child Marriage Free India”

70,000 women and girls from 10,000 villages across 500 districts led the campaign and lit diyas raising voice against child marriage.

Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi appealed to the nation to initiate collective action against child marriage to end the social evil. Following his appeal, the nationwide campaign was launched on Sunday with another Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee at Navranpura village in Virat Nagar, Rajasthan at a large public meeting. As a part of the campaign, 70,000 women and girls led people in lighting lamps, torchlight procession in around 10,000 villages (6,015 villages by KSCF and rest by government’s and other agencies) from over 500 districts in 26 states.

Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi launches nationwide campaign for “Child Marriage Free India”

Around 20 million people participated in the launch of the campaign from across the country and pledged to end child marriage.

Government agencies including Railway Protection Force (RPF), Women and child development department of 14 states, state child protection authorities, state legal services authorities, anganwadis and district administration of several state governments joined in support of the nationwide campaign.

Census 2011 reported over 12 million child marriages in the country, the study by National Family Health Survey (NFHS V) also corroborates Census 2011 report. Out of 12 million child marriages, 5.2 million were girls. According to NFHS V, 23.3% of women between the age group of 20 to 24 are married before turning 18. These figures demonstrate the need for a nationwide campaign to uproot the social evil from the country. The campaign aims to reduce the number of child marriages by 10% from 23.3%.

Highlighting the plight of the child marriage survivors, Nobel Peace Laureate

Kailash Satyarthi said, “Child marriage is a violation of human rights and

dignity, which unfortunately still has social acceptance. This social evil propels

an unending list of crimes against children, especially against our daughters.

“A few weeks ago, I put out a call to make India child marriage free. This spark ignited the flames of 70,000 women changemakers, proof that millions of women have felt suffocated by this age old oppressive societal custom.

I support the Government of India’s proposal to increase the marriageable age of girls from 18 to 21. I call upon faith leaders to speak out and ensure that all those who perform weddings, even at the village level do not perpetuate this crime against children. I call on all the caterers, decorators, banquet hall owners, bands and others to not provide their services for these weddings and not indulge in this criminal act. For those of you who are stopping child marriage in your villages, you are not alone. I am with you. As your brother, I will protect and support you in every possible manner. I will not leave your side in this fight,” he added.

Liberian Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee said, “Child marriage is an appalling practice that exists globally. We must put an end to this human rights violation. Our collective humanity demands this,” she added.

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