Child brides are on the rise in India’s towns and cities

(AFP)
Updated 02 June 2017

Child brides are on the rise in India’s towns and cities

NNEW DELHI:An increasing number of underage girls in India’s towns and cities are being married off, a study has revealed, challenging long-held assumptions that child marriage in the country is largely a rural phenomenon.
Child marriage is illegal in India, but it is deeply rooted and accepted in society, and remains widespread in parts of the country. Data from the 2011 census shows more than 5 million girls were married before the legal age of 18 — a marginal decrease from 2001.
Yet while the number of underage brides has declined by 0.3 percent in rural areas since 2001, they have increased by 0.7 percent in urban parts, said a report by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and the charity Young Lives.
Experts said these percentage figures appear insignificant, but considering India has a population of 1.3 billion, this means tens of thousands more underage girls were married in towns and cities in the decade to 2011.
“What is interesting is that one didn’t expect a lot of the urban areas to figure in the high incidence districts, especially around the big metros,” Renu Singh, Young Lives’ country director, told a news conference late on Thursday.
“Also it is surprising that in the 10 to 14 age group, there are still large numbers of girls being married in urban areas. One was hoping and thinking that would not exist at all.”
The study — the first to break down India’s census data on child marriage — found nearly one out of four girls in rural areas and one out of five in urban areas was married below 18.
Some urban districts in states such as Uttar Pradesh in the north and Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the south showed a rise in the number of underage brides from 2001 to 2011, the report said.
Singh said it was too early to know why incidence rates in certain towns and cities had inched higher, adding that more research was needed to understand the causes.
Along with Niger, Guinea, South Sudan, Chad and Burkina Faso, India is among the top 10 countries with the highest prevalence rates of child marriage, despite moves to empower girls and women and toughen penalties against the crime.
Poverty, weak enforcement of laws, patriarchal social norms and concerns about family honor are factors contributing to early marriage.
But the practice violates child rights — cutting across every part of women’s development and creating a vicious cycle of malnutrition, poor health and ignorance, experts say.
A child bride is more likely to drop out of school and have serious complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Her children are more likely to be underweight and will be lucky to survive beyond the age of five.


Five UK MPs cheated possible death in 2018 Iranian bomb plot

Updated 49 min 25 sec ago

Five UK MPs cheated possible death in 2018 Iranian bomb plot

  • Thwarted terror attack on Free Iran rally in Paris underscores threat posed by Iranian diplomats abroad: Bob Blackman MP

LONDON: Five British members of parliament (MPs) were among the thousands who escaped a terror plot at a rally for Iranian resistance groups in Paris two years ago, that was allegedly engineered by an Iranian diplomat.

A bomb intended to explode at the Free Iran gathering in the French capital in June 2018 was found in the car of an Iranian couple who were arrested in Brussels.

Among the potential thousands of bombing victims were five British MPs: Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, Theresa Villiers, Sir David Amess, and Roger Godsiff, as well as senior US politicians including American President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

The rally, organized by Iranian umbrella opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), had tens of thousands of people in attendance and was aimed at highlighting the global, democratic, and grassroots opposition to the current regime in Tehran.

An Iranian diplomat, Assadollah Assadi — believed to be the mastermind of the plot as well as an intelligence operative — has gone on trial in Belgium for allegedly smuggling the explosives used in the foiled plot from Iran into Europe by using his diplomatic privileges to avoid airport security checks.

Assadi was an ambassador in the Iranian embassy in Vienna, and his alleged involvement in the bomb plot has prompted discussion as to the true role of Iranian diplomats abroad.

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READ MORE: Belgium tries Iranian diplomat over bomb plot

Two years after failed bomb plot, Iranian opposition rallies backers online

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Bob Blackman, one of the MPs who attended the rally, told Arab News that the plot was an attempt by the Iranian regime to “take revenge” on the NCRI and their leader Maryam Rajavi for the groundswell in support for their group among Iranians inside Iran and abroad.

He reiterated a parliamentary motion in which he urged the UK and European governments to take seriously the security threat posed by Iran’s foreign diplomatic missions.

The politician said he condemned Iran’s “misuse of diplomatic privileges” and “reiterates the need to try the suspects and expel other Iranian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover or as ex-members of the opposition.”

The UK, Blackman added, should “make it clear to the regime that its continued use of diplomatic missions and embassies to facilitate, carry out, and plan terrorist attacks will have serious consequences, including expelling of diplomats and closing Iran’s embassy.”

He also urged the British government to “impose punitive measures on the regime’s leadership including (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei, (President Hassan) Rouhani, and (Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad) Zarif who decided and were involved in the Paris bomb plot.”

Blackman added: “The UK government must also proscribe the entire IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and the Ministry of Intelligence as terrorist organizations because these organizations are instrumental in the regime’s export of terrorism.”

The NCRI is frequently referred to as Iran’s “government in waiting” and the body continues to attract high-level attention and endorsements for presenting a credible alternative to the clerical regime in Iran.

Ali Safavi, a member of the NCRI’s foreign affairs committee, told Arab News that the 2018 bomb plot saga once again underscored the threat posed by Iran’s regime not just to its own people and the Middle East, but to the world at large.

He said: “Today’s trial, a culmination of more than two years of investigations, makes it palpably clear that the use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft is part and parcel of the Iranian regime’s DNA.

“This is an imperative and deterrent step to prevent the godfather of international terrorism making the European territory its roaming ground. The Iranian regime’s leaders must be prosecuted and face justice.”