Indian girls who are considered dark or dark-skinned have become increasingly popular with fashion brands in recent years.
The trend of dyeing the hair of Indian girls in an attempt to make them darker is gaining popularity among some celebrities as well as fashion houses, but it is often criticised by many as a misguided effort to make the girl look less white.
According to the National Commission for the Promotion of Darkness in India (NCPDI), more than 2.5 crore Indian girls have been given darker hair colour in schools, colleges, colleges and government institutions.
The NCPDI, a non-governmental organisation, says that the trend is not only a social issue but a health issue, with children and adults suffering from melanoma.
The Indian Institute of Science has estimated that the disease affects one in five Indian girls.
The NCPDH said that dark-coloured hair is “not only a cultural custom, but a public health issue”.
“There is growing awareness among young people that their hair colour is not natural and not the same as their skin tone.
And as the number of dark-haired women grows, there is increasing pressure on women to adopt more natural colours,” said Shashank Bhushan, chairperson of the NCPDDI.
The issue has been brought to the fore recently after a 15-year-old girl from the south Indian city of Kochi was given a hair dye by her father to give her “darker skin” and make her more appealing to the public.
The boy’s parents said that the girl was “tired of being a dark-eyed child”.
According to an article published by the BBC on Sunday, India’s chief medical officer, Dr Sunita Narain, said: “It’s not only the hair colour of the children that is changing.
The hair colour can also change the appearance of the eyes and nose.”
The article reported that the Indian Medical Association said the trend was an “appalling” breach of the law.
Dr Narain said the “appallingly” disturbing trend could lead to “a culture of malocclusion” and lead to more children being “treated with chemicals to achieve a certain shape and colour”.
However, some parents of dark girls in India said that it was their daughter’s own choice to choose a darker colour.
“If it’s my daughter, why can’t she be dark-colored?
It’s not that she is different.
She is just not as naturally beautiful as other girls,” said one of the parents, who did not want to be named.”
The girl has the right to choose.
She’s not the one who is making her choices.
It’s the girl who is being discriminated against,” the mother said.
The UN has been calling on India to make darker hair a “minority” colour, in a statement issued on Sunday.
It said the law was discriminatory and called on Indian authorities to “end the trend of hair dyeing Indian girls as a ‘minority’ colour”.
The UN said that hair colour was not a choice, but rather a biological trait, and that children were given “the option of choosing what colour their hair looks like, irrespective of their skin colour”.
“The practice of dye- ing the hair is not limited to India, but is also being adopted by other developing countries where hair colouring is widespread,” the statement said.
“It is time to stop the dyeing of dark hair in India, and instead encourage parents to choose different colour options for their children.”
The UN statement called on governments to stop using hair dye in India.
“To avoid a situation of further discrimination against people with darker skin, the Government of India should ensure that the colour of hair does not determine one’s status or that the government and other stakeholders do not use the colour as a tool for creating discrimination,” the UN statement said, calling for the end to the practice.