As we continue to deal with what will happen with Shumi* and her illegal child marriage, an ongoing project is to work with the local authorities and reach out to the villages to prevent future child marriages. An effective response to child marriage is similar to that for other human rights violations in that three key components are necessary: intervention into current abuses; prevention of future abuses; and rehabilitation or aftercare for victims of abuse. Getting the authorities to do some something to help Shumi fits into the intervention category; public events, teaching and awareness can all fit into the prevention category, as we work to create a culture that prevents any further such abuses.
The good news on the prevention front is that local authorities in Shatkhira District are working with us to talk to villagers about the dangers and illegalities of child marriage. On Sunday we were joined in Kashipur by the local Police Officer-in-Charge and the local Upazila Chairman who spoke publicly about the issue. They told the assembled crowd that not only was child marriage illegal and destructive but that they would prosecute anyone who gave their daughter in child marriage or was involved in the issue in any way. Strong words for the villagers in Kashipur, Shumi's village where 53 girls ages 10-18 are involved in our Girls Education Program.