The Teens Going Door to Door to Stop Child Marriages

Child marriage is technically illegal in Bangladesh, but six in 10 girls are still married off before the age of 18. Now, teens across the country are adopting grassroots approaches to fight for their rights—and it's working.

By Syambra Moitozo
Moriom has a compassionate perspective about her mother’s choice to marry her off a few years ago to her neighbor, who was substantially older than her. She was still a child at the time. She says she’s not angry about it, though the vacant look in her eyes indicates her resignation.
Holding a wriggling toddler on her hip, the 16-year-old thinks back to when she found out about the arrangement: “I suffered a lot when my mother told me I would marry someone twice my age. But when she said it was impossible to feed me, I didn’t want to be a burden.” She was told that the family she was marrying into was stable, that it was solid plan for her future. It just wasn’t one she was consulted about. Growing up, Moriom had dreamed of being a teacher, but she only made it to grade four; as with most child brides, her marriage brought the end to formal education and the beginning of motherhood.
Moriom’s story is depressingly common: One of every 10 girls in the developing world is married before she turns 18, but in Bangladesh, the figure is over six in 10, according to Unicef. And, while the rate has gone down over the last 15 years, the numbers are still staggering. Poverty is a main economic driver of child marriage, but the systemic nature of the practice extends beyond people not being able to take care of their children—child marriage is frequent in cultures that place a high value on female virginity as a currency for a family’s status in the community.
Image: Laxmi, a teenager from a village near Sylhet, who supports her family as a seamstress. (Josh Estey)
READ THE FULL STORY

Comments
No. 1-4
tommy
tommy

I am hopeful that once the old generations are gone (elderly & village chiefs) this issue will improve

kesabeth
kesabeth

I love Laxmi's determination and smarts.

meiosis
meiosis

The advocacy here is really moving, it's just so awful that this exists though

lbrindley
lbrindley

Very eye-opening story. It's amazing to think that many of these child brides do not think twice about being married off at such a young age. There needs to be more people like Dipko convincing families to keep their daughters in school, rather than getting married in their adolescence. What is the best thing someone in the US can do to help Dipko's cause?

Stories