US official praises Bihar village record on female feticide

US official praises Bihar village record on female feticide

Agencies Posted: Jul 22, 2010 at 1504 hrs
Washington Praising a village in Bihar for its track record on female feticide and dowry deaths, a top US official has said that countries should implement and enforce laws establishing a minimum age for marriage.“The residents of one village, Dharhara in the Bihar state of India, plant mango trees when a girl is born dedicated to paying for the expenses associated her marriage,” Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues told US lawmakers in a discussion with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at a hearing on child marriage last week.

“This simple practice takes away the financial burden associated with a daughter and has produced outstanding results,” she said.

“In a state that has some of the highest rates of dowry death, there has not been a single incident of female feticide or dowry death in the village,” Verveer said.

Noting that countries should implement and enforce laws establishing a minimum age for marriage, requiring the registration of marriages and prosecute the violators, she said the development community must also address the conditions in which child marriage flourishes.

“Beyond working on the development agenda already in place, there must be an effort to increase the value of the girl-child in the eyes of her community,” she argued.

The US official said one study in India found that girls who married before 18 were twice as likely to experience physical violence and three times as likely to experience sexual violence.

“Armed conflict can also exacerbate the practice of child marriage by increasing child slavery and trafficking, forced prostitution and sexual exploitation, and child homelessness – all of which conspire toward early marriage or a similarly doomed fate,” she said.

“The lack of value associated with the girl-child is not only at the root of child marriage-it also underlies comparable abuses.

For example, the issue of gendercide and female feticide that is prevalent in China, India and other places contribute to millions of missing girls around the world and is driven by many of the same social, financial and cultural factors that animate the practice of child marriage,” the official said.


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