India’s Ashok Dyalchand voted Child Rights Hero

Child Rights activist, Dr Ashok Dyalchand is the recipient of this year’s Child Rights Hero award for his campaign against child marriages in India.

Dyalchand beat two other nominees; Burundi’s Spes Nihangaza and Haiti’s Guylande Mésadieu to the award, and also received a cash prize of 350,000 Swedish Kronos  (about $36,305).

Nihangaza and Mésadieu each received an honorary award and 175,000 Swedish Kronos (about $18,153).

The three nominees were selected by Child jury comprised of experts in Children’s rights through their own life experience as refugees, slaves and indigenous people.

The awards were facilitated by the World’s Children’s Prize Foundation, a global organisation that promotes children’s rights.

According to Mushrah Kudrah Nakiyingi, a member of the Child Rights Club at Kitante Primary School in Kampala, Uganda, the children chose Dyalchand after reading the story about his dedicated 40-year campaign against child marriages in India.

“Many young girls continue to drop out of school because they are being force into marriage at an early age. Many of them are at a high risk of developing health complications and, even death because their reproductive systems are not ready for child birth,” Nakiyingi said.

She called on the Ugandan government to step up efforts to end child marriages in the country to ensure that all girls complete  primary and secondary education.

“We need strict laws against child marriages, parents caught giving away their young daughters into early marriage should be subjected to longer jail terms,” she said.

Members of Kitante Primary School’s Child Rights Club

She was joined by other members of the Child Rights Club who argued that despite violating children rights of girls, the consequences of child marriages last a lifetime since girls are not emotionally or physically ready.

They want government to implement all laws related to child marriages saying giving birth early puts both mother and child’s life in danger.