Child sponsorship helped Monika from being married off as a child.
“I did not know what to do. When I found out, I cried a lot. I did not know whether I should speak out or not,” Rahima* said. She was just 14 years old when she came home from school and found out she was to be married to someone she never met.
Child marriage is a harmful practice that robs children like Rahima of their freedom and exposes them to various risks. In Bangladesh, more than half of girls are married before the age of 18, especially in poor and rural areas. Economic factors often drive parents to arrange early marriages for their daughters, believing it will provide financial security for the family. In places where a dowry or financial payment for the bride is customary, child marriage also can be a way for families to acquire much-needed money or livestock.
Rahima felt trapped with no other choice but to accept her fate. That was until she heard about Monika.
Monika, slightly older than Rahima, had also grown up in a family where child marriage was considered normal. However, Monika had managed to avoid it because she was sponsored. Through World Vision’s awareness sessions, Monika learned about the physical and psychological harm caused by child marriage. Armed with this knowledge, she convinced her family to choose a different path for her.
Monika (in black shawl) and her team are on the frontlines of the battle against child marriage in their community.
But Monika's efforts didn't stop there. Together with a group of friends, she decided to take a stand against child marriage. At just 18 years old, Monika and her team actively works to raise awareness about the harmful effects of child marriage within their community.
“So far, I have stopped 10 marriages,” she says. “My team and I believe that child marriage can be prevented if we all work together.”
When Rahima heard about Monika's work, she felt safe reaching out for help, despite going against her parents' wishes. Monika's team visited Rahima's house and explained to her mother that marrying Rahima at such a young age was not right. Rahima's mother, who believed that their poverty left them with no other options, initially resisted. However, thanks to Monika's team's efforts and the involvement of local authorities, Rahima's marriage was ultimately stopped.
Now back in school, Rahima dreams of becoming a lawyer and using her experience to empower other girls to speak up against injustice. And so the ripple effect of Monika’s sponsorship continues, transforming the world that girls in her community live in, for good.
Child sponsorship plays a crucial role in combating child marriage and other forms of violence and abuse faced by girls worldwide. By sponsoring girls like Monika and Rahima, you can help fight for their rights and potentially change the course of their futures. Join the movement to sponsor a girl by 11 October, the International Day of the Girl.
*Name changed to protect the identity
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