Extreme poverty, natural disasters and lack of education are causing an epidemic of child marriage in Bangladesh. Nearly a third of girls is married before they reach the age of 15, even though the legal age to be married is 18. It seems insane to marry off an 11-year-old, but what to do if you don't know how to feed your family and one flood after another hits your home? Parents see this as an escape, not realizing that this is only a short-term solution. Without education a precious generation is lost. A vicious circle of destructive traditions being passed on into a grim future.
This Human Rights Watch video puts a spotlight on this disaster, but after 8,5 minutes enter into the scene the pleasant surprise of "the wedding busters". This is a group of kids, soms as young as 12, who go around their community educating people. Taking responsibility for creating awareness, they have taken the future of their generation into their own hands. They explain that child marriage is illegal, that young girls are in great risk giving birth before their bodies are fully developed and that education is essential for future development.
These kids are creating child marriage-free zones! Parents who plan to marry off their daughter, actually stop to think twice and say: "You're right, she should go to school!"
The young wedding busters are so convincing, they have stopped half of all proposed child marriages in some of the regions where they are active.
Manufa is one of many girls who have benefited. She was about to get married at 16 until the Wedding Busters spoke to her father.This is one of those good news items, where credit must be given to young people changing their world and to the older ones who are humble enough to listen to them. May it be an inspiration to those of us somewhere in between.
"I wasn't aware that marriage under 18 is illegal and I didn't think her education was important," says Manufa's father. "I learned all this from the children."
Now with the wedding cancelled, Manufa is thriving at school and excited about her future. "When I finish school I want to be a nurse," she says.
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers in speech,
in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12, NIV