New York: Archbishop Desmond Tutu said on Wednesday he is as passionate about fighting the widespread practice of child marriage as he was when he helped bring down apartheid in South Africa.
"My passion (that) now I hope to translate, transfer to this, is the same passion, commitment that I had when I was fighting, we were fighting, against apartheid," Tutu told a conference in New York, where activists spoke out against the estimated 10 million marriages of underage girls around the world each year.
Tutu, a Nobel peace prize laureate and a hero of the struggle to end white minority rule in his native South Africa, said he came late to the realisation of how common child marriage is and how much damage it causes.
"For a very, very long time I didn`t know," he told a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York. "I thought it was something that happens only in India."
The reality, Tutu said, left him "devastated”.
"The statistics are shattering. If we do nothing about it, 10 million girl children under the age of 18 will have been married this year. You think: in a decade that`s 100 million."