07 September 2013, Dhaka. A new alliance has been formed with the hope to end child marriage in Bangladesh. The Girls Not Brides Bangladesh Alliance was formally launched today at BRAC Centre with its first national round table discussion. The 13-member alliance, led by BRAC, includes prominent organisations such as BLAST, CARE Bangladesh, Family Planning Association of Bangladesh, icddr,b, Marie Stops Bangladesh, National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, Plan Bangladesh, Population Council, White Ribbon Campaign, World Vision, and Youth Forum Promoting Access to Development.
Girls Not Brides: the Global Partnership to End Child Marriage is an international network of many development organisations working to end child marriage. At present, there are 286 members in 53 countries in the network. Concerned about the often dangerous effects of child marriage, organisations in Bangladesh decided to strengthen the international network by forming the Girls Not Brides Bangladesh Alliance.
BRAC’s Vice chairperson Ahmed Mustaqur Raza Chowdhury stated during the launching ceremony that child marriage is one of the biggest social problems in Bangladesh, and a major violation of human rights for both young girls and boys. Mr, Mustaq also commented that without everyone within a society being aware of the harmful implications of child marriage it will not be possible to bring an end to the practice. He invited all to join the movement in establishing a society free from child marriage.
Sheepa Hafiza, director of BRAC’s gender justice and diversity division and migration division, expressed in her speech that the working area of this initiative would be more widened in the near future.
Sultana Kamal, former advisor of the caretaker government of Bangladesh and executive director of Ain O Shalish Kendra said, “If we work to abolish child marriage one village at a time, it is possible to eradicate it completely from our society.”
Ayesha Khanam, chairperson of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad said, “Poverty, illiteracy and social insecurity are the factors behind child marriage. We have to build strong resistance against them.”
Information commissioner Sadeka Halim said,“It is not a matter of discussion for a day. We must focus on it for all the 365 days of the year.”
The launching ceremony was attended by some of the most renowned people in the country including Salma Khan, former chairperson of Beijing Platform for Action and former divisional head of Planning Commission; Dr Nurunnabi, vice chancellor of Begum Rokeya University; Kazi Riazul Haque, permanent member of Bangladesh Human Rights Commission; Taptun Nasrin, AIG, Crime Metro, Police Headquarters Dhaka; Fowzia Khandoker Eva, consultant, Police Reform Project, UNDP; Farzana Rupa, journalist, Channel 71; Hannana Begum, director, Bangladesh Bank; Nazia Haider, Swedish Development Cooperative; Mushfiqua Z Satiar, advisor, SRHR and Gender, The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Anil Tambey, country director, Marie Stopes and Chandan J Gomez, director of World Vision Bangladesh Advocacy.
Grassroots experiences on child marriage were also shared during the event from Sajeda Begum, union parishad member, Pirujali Union, WARD no 09; Md Ijjat Ali, union parishad member, Pirujali Union, WARD no 07; Kazi Md Nurul Islam, Gazipur Sadar.