Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani on Tuesday called for the protection of Afghan girls against child marriages.
According to her, forced marriages affect the physical health of young girls and robs them of their childhood and future.
“Child marriage is a depressing phenomenon for the young generation of Afghanistan and it is a national responsibility to stop the menace,’’ she told the audience in an event held in Afghan Media and Information Centre.
The event marked the inauguration of “National Action Plan to Eliminate Early Child Marriage’’ by Afghan Ministries of Women Affairs and Information and Culture.
The inauguration was supported by the Embassy of Canada in Afghanistan and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
“I urge all Afghan families to avoid child and forced marriages. Your girls face a huge risk when they get married at young age.
“Early marriage robs them of their childhood and future opportunities,’’ she added.
The first Lady noted that getting married in an appropriate age reduces girls’ risk for physical, sexual, psychological as well as economic abuse.
UNFPA country representative at the event, Bannet Ndyanabangi said a girl, below 18, was capable of rapidly gaining wisdom and knowledge from the people around her.
“She can be one day an inspiring leader, a productive worker, an innovator, a caring parent or take any other role that empowers a society.
“She can shape the future of her society.
“But all of this depend on how we support her today,’’ Ndyanabangi said.
According to a statement issued by UNFPA, the plan of action adopts two approaches, it outlines initiatives designed to prevent and end early child marriage.
“It strives to improve the implementation of laws and services which aim to support people at risk of early child marriage,’’ it added.
According to UNICEF, girls aged 15 to 19 who experience pregnancy and childbirth are twice as likely to die of related complications as women aged 20 to 24 years.