Bangladesh, The battle against Child Marriage

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Jewel Mahammud Kawsan (17, center right) speaks during a monthly meeting of a Children's Group in Bhashantek Basti (Slum) in Zon H, Dhaka, Bangladesh on 23rd September 2011. When asked if an abused wife could return to her family, Jewel says, "Society doesn't take it well. It is not accepted if she leaves the husband's house. Even (her own parents) will tell her to be accommodative even if her husband beats her, because after marriage, that is now her real address." Jewel also tells a true story of a girl who used to be a member of the children's group. When she turned 14/15, her parents wanted to marry her off. The children's group went to village elders to counsel the family and the marriage was stopped. The children felt proud but sadly, after 2 months, she was quietly married off. Now, at 18, she is a mother of a girl child and is not happy in the marriage. Her husband is also a young boy but is violent in nature and beats her. She is tied to motherhood and house chores and not allowed to join the other children. The families are also fighting because of dowry related issues." The Bhashantek Basti Childrens Group is run by children for children with the facilitation of PLAN Bangladesh and other partner NGOs. Slum children from ages 8 to 17 run the group within their own communities to protect vulnerable children from child related issues such as child marriage. Photo by Suzanne Lee for The Guardian