Young politicians combat child marriage
Young political leaders have combatted child marriage as participants of the US and UK government-funded Young Leaders Fellowship Programme (YLFP), implemented by Democracy International. The campaign is spearheaded by young politicians, Shah Alomgir Joy, Member (Convenor Committee) and Press Secretary, Mymensingh City Committee, Bangladesh Awami Jubo League and Kamrun Nahar Koli, Information and Research Affairs Secretary, Mymensing City Committee, Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Mohila Dol. They are committed to bringing female students back to school.
After the Covid-19 lockdowns ended in October 2021, the young politicians noticed a change at schools in Mymensingh.
"At Abul Mansur Memorial Girls' High School of Trishal Upazila, Mymensingh, we found out that 70 students out of the 320 from Grade 6 to 10 stopped attending classes when the school reopened after the lockdown," mentions Shah Alomgir Joy.
"The teachers even suspected that the girls were married off as the Covid-19 pandemic left quite a dent in their parents' financial solvency."
Both Alamgir and Nahar are aspiring politicians who recently participated in Democracy International's YLFP training, under the joint US-UK Strengthening Political Landscape project. The programme has already certified 374 young politicians with Nahar and Alamgir being in the 18th batch.
The programme equips young politicians with practical knowledge in the political landscape, identifying social issues and policymaking to aid the general populace.
"We reached out to parents and in-laws of the 70 dropout girls and tried to convince them to let the girls return to school," adds Alamgir. "So far, we 30 students already returned to school and we promised to finance educational support for 40 students who entered work life due to the financial strains due to the pandemic."
"As a woman myself, I find the very act of child marriage atrocious and demeaning," shares Nahar, the member of Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Mohila Dol.
"We have already sat with the Union Paroshad's chairman and are constantly meeting local government officials to prevent child marriage," says Nahar. "We also went house to house collecting signs from the locals attesting the public's opinion against child marriage."
Fighting against such a social issue has not been a smooth sail for Alamgir and Nahar. "At first, the parents and in-laws we quite skeptical about the girls returning to school," says Alamgir. "We faced quite a bit of harassment well. But we managed to convince them."
"Even now, we have not stopped aiding victims' of child marriage," shares Alamgir. "The biggest obstacle we face in aiding the child victims is that we come to know about them after the marriage. It would be great if we could get access to the marriage bureaus and agencies. That way we can prevent the crime before it can take place."
"We believe as politicians and youths of society, we must step forward and remedy the social issues in our communities," concludes Alamgir.