Going to school is one of the best ways to prevent girls getting married when they are still a child. Yet in Bangladesh school is not necessarily always a safe place. Girls are often harassed by boys on their way to school, for example. This kind of harassment is so common in Bangladesh that it has a name: eve-teasing. Out of fear that something will happen to their daughter while she is in school, parents often do not let a girl go to school and decide to marry her off.
To prevent this, groups of youth-leaders – supported by The Hunger Project – organized themselves in various secondary schools and mapped out where girls are being harassed. Now volunteers, such as local shop-keepers, stand on the look-out at these risky spots in the morning and the afternoon. This measure dramatically reduced eve-teasing on the girls’ way to school. Girls in 206 different schools can now make their journey to and from school safely and worry-free.
Meet some of these fantastic youth-leaders below!
Hafza is 23 years old and is Youth Leader in Moniganj, Bangladesh. She set up a youth team that prevents child marriages. “When we hear that a young girl is about to get married, we immediately go to the village council. They talk to the girl’s parents and try to stop the marriage“. This subject is of great importance to Hafza. “These girls are often only 14 and do not want to marry at all. I want to give them a chance to study further so that they can determine their own future!”
Faysal is 23 and he has been a volunteer and youth leader at The Hunger Project Bangladesh for three years now. He lives in the area that is now filling up with Rohingya refugees – and will soon go to the refugee camps to volunteer there. “I’m not going to do emergency relief, but to play sports with refugees there. They do not speak Bengali, but I can show what we are going to do with hand gestures. That is important, because sports creates a bond “.
Tanny, youth leader:”I want to become a doctor later and represent Bangladesh abroad. We have rights, but also duties: I want to give something back to society. Before I could become a leader, I first had to get to know myself. We can not get ahead as a country if we do not take women with us. That’s why I go into the villages to educate people about child marriage – the biggest problem in our communities. We are really going to succeed.”
Liza is active in one of the Safe School for Girls projects.”The school director is very happy with the suggestions we give – they make the school a better place. We can now actively improve the situation at school and make it safer, that feels really good. For example, we have drawn the route to school on a large map and then indicated the points where we are often bothered. On these points there are now volunteers from the village to ensure that we are safe when we walk to school, not only when we are already at school. I am very happy about this“.