New York - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said on Thursday he was "devastated" by the Taliban's shooting of a Pakistani girl who had campaigned for girls' rights to education.
"I can't imagine how anyone can justify maiming a child for what they consider political reasons, because they want women to be subjugated," he said at a press conference here.
Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his role in the struggle against apartheid, said Malala Yousufzai was a "wonderful young woman" who had much to contribute to the world.
She was fighting for her life in a Pakistani military hospital on Thursday after a gunman boarded a schoolbus in Pakistan's Swat Valley and shot the 14-year-old and two of her schoolmates.
The Taliban, who have killed thousands of people across Pakistan in the last five years and destroyed hundreds of girls' schools, have issued a statement saying that any female who opposes them should be killed.
"I am devastated," Tutu said.
Tuto was at the United Nations to deliver a report on child marriage, which he promised to campaign against with the same energy as he did against apartheid.
"We want to eradicate this practice by 2030, and why not? We ended vicious things like apartheid," he said.
"This is viciously cruel, how would you feel if it was your younger sister or your daughter?"
He saluted the United Nations for holding for the first time International Girl Day and drawing attention to the discrimination "that has dogged women and girls for centuries".