Campaign against early and forced marriages

CHILD MARRIAGE: In Hadiqa Bashir's opinion a child is meant to be educated and has the right to play and enjoy life. In her surroundings many of her friends, even her class mates, got married at a very early age and soon became mothers. This shattered Bashir and she started to learn from books what could be done about it. She began to wage war against this practice and raised awareness in her community.

She asks in her sessions - at what age does a girl get a CNIC [ID card]?” Most of the time she gets the reply that it is 18. Her next question is always: "Then why should a girl be forced to marry at age 16 or below?"

She explains that when a girl is married in childhood it has an ill effect on her body, her health, and her social life. Also, many times the girls face death during delivery of babies.

She also explains what the causes for early age marriage for girls are; namely, poverty, culture, gender discrimination and the non-implementation of the law.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

To form a group by the name of Girls United for Human, Rights, which will fight against the evils of society committed against women.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

She formed a group of young girls and started the movement. She visits door to door and spreads the word. Many of her colleagues left under pressure from families and patriarchal forces but she didn't quit and stood by her convictions. She was even scolded and sometimes she faced threats but she had a conviction to stop this menace in society.

Many girls are saved by her campaign - through awareness she has dedicated her young life to stop the atrocities against women and children, and she has been recognized as an icon and respected in this regard.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

The young girls' group formation is th most innovative thing as there are no girls group ever formed in the area. Both the social evil of SWARA and child marriages are a common practice.

While forced marriages are up to 100% percent, nobody ever noticed it and nobody dared, especially females, to speak out against it as they suffered the most. In this patriarchal society Hadiqa's voice has been the innovation and nobody expected that it would come from a 13-year- old child.

Her door to door visits were a unique step for society because even politicians won't do it for running their campaign.

Being a young girl, and at such a tender age, she was representing her female counterparts and becoming their voice.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

The campaign got its bloom when she was awarded the Muhammad Ali International Humanitarian Award 2015 for her conviction. Her voice reached to every nook and corner of the world, her voice became international and was heard by every person who watched TV - they knew about her mission and the awareness that was meant to take years now was done in days. Many people in the locality where she lives have stopped their young girls' marriages, they now understand that girls should be married at a proper age. Even lawyers used to practice the early marriages but now they also speak against early marriages and praise Hadiqa for her work. Her work was appreciated by the Pakistan Senate Chairman and she was given a standing ovation in the senate.

CHALLENGES FACED

The biggest challenge was from religious scholars, who in this society do not accept an age for marriage, the other challenge was the patriarchal society.

LESSONS LEARNT

One lesson is learnt by Hadiqa: "one person with conviction can change the world." She has been very successful in her campaign and even changed the minds of religious scholars, she has changed the perspective of the people.

Here are two video excerpts:
http://www.pakistanherald.com/program/26903/06-march-2015/bbc-sairbeen-hadiqa-bashir-raises-voice-ag
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32776484

COUNTRY

Pakistan

CITY

Saidu Sharif mingora

FACEBOOK PAGE

https://www.facebook.com/hadiqa.bashir.9?fref=ts