Swat teenager tackles child marriages

Written by  Published by:Pakistan Views Tuesday, 19 May 2015 16:52

SWAT: A teenage activist in Swat Valley has taken up the challenge of bringing change to the mindset and traditions of Pakistan’s conservative society, where child marriages are common practice.

Hadiqa Bashir, 14, is working hard to bring an end to early marriages in her community, where it is common for girls to be offered for marriage in exchange for settling a dispute or to keeping land within the family.

In an attempt to spread awareness about the drawbacks of child marriage, Hadiqa visits homes in her town after school to address the issues faced by girls who are married at a young age.

Giving an example of her seven-year-old sister who her parents wanted to marry off, Hadiqa explained in a short video how she intervened to prevent the marriage from taking place. Her sister is now studying and will pursue higher education.

“Hadiqa has been to my house many times,” said one woman who is visited by the young activist on a regular basis, adding that “now we understand the importance of education and not getting our girls married at a young age.”

Hadiqa further explained how she began her campaign after her school friend was married in sixth grade.

“We were all happy at first when we found out she was getting married,” Hadiqa said. “But then we saw how she was treated after she got married and I wanted to make sure this didn’t happen again,” she said further.

Determined, Hadiqa goes on to say, “It is common for a father to give away his daughter to settle a dispute or for land.”

She hopes that with her knowledge she will enable girls her age to have a normal childhood and continue their education, and show parents that breaking away from the norm is a better option.

This article originally appeared on BBC 

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