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‘The Elders’ Promote ‘Girls Not Brides’ Initiative In India

“A group of prominent activists from around the world known as ‘The Elders’ arrived in India Thursday to take a stand against the practice of child marriage” and promote its global “Girls Not Brides” movement, VOA’s “Breaking News” blog reports (2/9). South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the group’s chair, said India’s gross domestic product growth would be much greater if “women are given their proper place,” Reuters notes. Experts say approximately 10 million girls under the age of 18 are married worldwide every year, often to an older man, without consent and before they are mentally and physically mature, according to the news service, which adds, “The practice is most prevalent in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, despite laws in most countries banning it.”

“Tutu — who is in India with some of the other Elders, which includes former Irish President Mary Robinson and Gro Harlem Brundtland, who was Norway’s first female prime minister — said it was imperative to address the issue as it was linked to development,” Reuters writes, noting Tutu also said child marriage threatens the health of young women, as they are more likely than women 19 or older to die in childbirth and at higher risk of HIV infection (Bhalla, 2/9). A transcript of an interview with Tutu and Robinson prior to their trip to India is available on Huffington Post (Schnall, 2/6).