Much too young

Much too young

Dear friends,

Calling themselves the “wedding busters”, a group of incredible children is fighting to stop girls as young as 10 from being married off. Now they’re trying to prevent Bangladesh from lowering the legal marriage age to 16, and we can help them.

Two out of three girls under 18 get married off, and last year PM Sheikh Hasina pledged to drastically reduce this. But now her government has come up with the marriage age dodge to make these shameful stats look better, while avoiding real action.

Hasina wants a glowing report card at a UN poverty summit this September, and needs donors to shower more money on her government.

If we raise a million-strong call to key donors like the UN, World Bank and Asian Development Bank to pressure Bangladesh, we can boost the wedding busters and get Sheikh Hasina to save girl brides, not change the law. Add your name now and share widely:

Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage for girls under 15 in the world — roughly one in three girls suffer this fate. While the current legal age to marry is 18 and 21 for women and men respectively, in reality, the law is not enforced strongly by the government. However, the Child Marriage Restraint Act is a strong tool for civil society groups like the “wedding busters” to stop child marriages in their communities. They are often called upon by young girls themselves, desperate to stay in school.

While many other countries such as England also have a legal age of 16 for marriage with parental consent, what makes this proposal very dangerous in Bangladesh is that many poor and uneducated parents marry their girls off as children without fully understanding the grim consequences for their education and health — in an attempt to save money and for fear of assault on older unmarried girls. Furthermore, since many girls don’t have birth certificates, parents can claim they are 16 when they are actually even younger.

Bangladesh has already got US $780 million from the World Bank and US $585 million from the Asian Development Bank this year and are waiting and hoping for more. If we raise an outcry now asking these donors to take a tough stand on child marriage, we can ensure that Sheikh Hasina is forced to back away from changing the legal marriage age.

The “wedding busters” are an inspiring group of children whose pioneering work has helped to change minds. A tough law is their biggest weapon — let’s back them now by empowering them to support girls in their communities. Sign now and share:

There are so many fantastic local movements in different countries challenging social evils from child marriage to racism. Avaaz members have joined up with these creative local forces to amplify their voices around the world calling for change. Let’s do it again, by supporting the work of the “wedding busters” in fighting for Bangladeshi girls.

With hope and determination,

Alaphia, Risalat, Alex, Emma and the rest of the Avaaz team

More information:

Bangladesh: Girls Damaged by Child Marriage (Human Rights Watch)

Bangladeshi girls call in ‘wedding busters’ to tackle child marriage (The Guardian)

Foreign aid commitment drops (Financial Express)

Helping Bangladeshi Girls Go Further (World Bank)

Bangladesh continues to be a role model in MDG achievement (UNDP)

The Child Marriage Restraint Act (GoB)

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An incredible group of children is fighting to stop young girls getting married off, but they need our help! The Bangladesh government is trying to lower the marriage age to hide its horrifically high numbers of child marriage! PM Hasina’s government relies on foreign donors — let’s ask them to pressure Bangladesh to stop child marriages, not make them legal! Join now and share! is a 41-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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