The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) on Friday expressed concern over government's refusal to sign the United Nation's Global Resolution adopted on September 27 to ban early and forced marriage of children.
It demanded that the central government come out with the reasons for its stand and "not play vote bank politics" with the lives of women and children.
"The distancing from signing of the UN resolution by the Congress led UPA II government will further encourage the illegal practice of child marriage. A circular by the Kerala UDF government led by Congress party directing the local self government to register child marriage, aimed at appeasing certain religious fundamentalist forces, is highly condemnable," said Annie Raja, general secretary of NFIW.
The Prime Minister, earlier, had expressed concern about anemic condition of adolescent girls, which he had described as a "national shame".
"However, by not signing such an important document, the first ever global attempt to curb child marriage, the Indian government negated not only the law of our country but also succumbed to the pressure to the political pressure of certain religious fundamentalist groups, which are custodians of khap and 'biradari' panchayats," she alleged.
Raja alleged the government's attitude towards the UN resolution shows its lack of political will and social commitment in ensuring women their constitutional rights and warned that it will lead to further marginalisation of women in our country.
"In spite of the Child Marriage Prevention Act of 2006, 23 million (40%) of world's child brides are in India and 43% of the under-aged married girls suffer from marital violence. The high rate of child marriage is detrimental to the development of the country," said Raja.
According to National Family and Health Survey 3, 16% of this age group, which constitutes 2.4 lakh women, have already become mothers or are pregnant which is a major reason for the increasing rates of infant and maternal mortality, she said.
According to the UNICEF Report, more than half of the girls aged between 15 to 19, ie 56%, are anaemic.
Almost 47% girls in the age-group of 11-19 years are underweight. According to Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), anaemia among children is highest in Bihar (78%), followed by Madhya Pradesh (74.1%), Uttar Pradesh (73.9%), Haryana (72.3%), Chhattisgarh (71.2%) and Jharkhand (70.3%).
NFIW demanded that Prohibition of Child marriage Act 2006 be strictly implemented.