Faith leaders pledge zero tolerance of child marriages

June 17, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Secunderabad, June 15, 2018: Leaders from various religions in Telangana have pledge to do all in their might to prevent child marriages after listening to severity of the social problem at a conclave.

“Around 15 million girl children are married off every year worldwide. This works out to a child marriage every two seconds,” said Montfort Brother Varghese Theckanath, president of Interfaith Forum for Social Change (IFSC) that joined other NGOs to organize a state level interfaith conclave at Secunderabad.

The June 13 conclave focused on coordinated efforts of religious communities to prevent child marriage and promotion of secondary education.

“It is time religious leaders left their religious spaces to play their transformative role in society as changemakers to help humanity attain their fullness of life,” Brother Theckanath said while asserting that the leaders of faith communities must step in to change traditions and customs that come in the way of preventing child marriages.

The Brother promised that the Interfaith Forum will play an active role to bring together religious leaders of all hues to attain the goal of eradicating child marriages.

The conclave was the joint effort of Mahita and Plan India along with the IFSC under the aegis of Girls Advocacy Alliance.

Mahita is a team of individuals who formed a group in 1995 to initiate development interventions in the urban slums of Hyderabad. Plan India is a nationally registered not for profit organisation striving to advance children’s rights and equality for girls, thus creating a lasting impact in the lives of vulnerable and excluded children and their communities.

Speaking on the occasion Yerrola Srinivas Garu, chairperson of the Telangana State SC/ST Commission, asserted that the prevention of child marriage is responsibility of every individual.

“We should, individually and collectively as community, fight against this evil. Education is the best means to do it,” he said. He highlighted steps taken by the state government to prevent child marriages through schemes such as Kalyana Lakshmi and Shaadi Mubarak that supports young girls from socially backward and minority communities to the tune of 100,000 rupees if they are married after attaining the legal age of 18 years.

Speaking on the occasion, Ramesh Sekhar Reddy, director of Mahita, stated that Girls Advocacy Alliance, an NGO Collective has been working in the different districts of Telangana with religious leaders to sensitize their communities on the issues of child marriages and education for girls.

But an event of such dimension at the state level is a first of its kind. He said society at large counts on the Interfaith Forum for Social Change to take the campaign forward so that before long the Telangana state will record zero level of child marriages.

The religious leaders who attended the conclave are: Harikishan ji of the Arya Samaj, Sister Anjali, head of the Brahma Kumaris, Ashish Barua, a prominent Buddhist leader, Brother K M Joseph, former assistant general of the Montfort Brothers, Moulana Syed Nasir Hussain Hyder Aga, senior Shia Muslim leader, Maneck Daruwala, leader of the Secunderabad Fire Temple, Raminder Kaur (religious preacher from the Sikh community), Jain Ratan K M Jhabak, chief priest of the Jain Temple, Bishop Pushpa Lalitha, first woman prelate of the Church of South India, and Sri Sri Seetharamacharyulu of the Shaivaite Community.

They promised their “total and unreserved commitment” to prevent child marriages in Telangana.

A poster on prevention of child marriages by faith leaders was released on the occasion.

– matters india

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