Stopping child marriage through poetry

A poetry book written by a teacher in Bangladesh is being used by girls to prevent child marriages.

A girls reading out a poem to her parents
A girls reading out a poem to her parents.

Girls from Bangladesh are convincing their parents to stop arranging child marriages for them through poetry. The girls are using a book written by their teacher which has become a tool to raise awareness of the effects of child marriage on girls.

The book was written by Mr. Adbus who is a Bengali teacher, social worker and author of many books. He was planning to write to a book about stopping child marriage for a long time, however, he was struggling with the key messages until he received training from Plan International’s Gender Responsive School and Community Initiative (GRSCSI) which supports schools and communities to identify and respond to risks in Bangladesh and Nepal. His knowledge also increased after supporting the psychosocial support group that is also organised by the GRSCSI project.

Mr. Adbus shares his poem books with students.
Mr. Abdus shares his poem books with students.

The GRSCSI project formed 6 student task forces for the well-being of the students. The psychosocial support group is one of them. Each group consists of 4 students and 1 teacher. Abdus Salam received training on how to guide students and build their capacity on psychosocial support.

Child marriages increase during disasters

During discussions in the groups he observed despair among girls as they knew they would have marriages arranged for them and during his career he has observed many girls drop out of school early due to child marriages. During the COVID-19 pandemic this trend got worse. After reopening the school, with the support of the GRSCSI project, he wrote poems on stopping child marriage and published them in his book.

The students have not only read these poems but they have shared them with their communities. Through the students’ efforts, this poetry book is well known by parents and is contributing to stopping child marriages.

Here is an example of one of the poems in the book:

One of the poems about child marriage
One of the poems about child marriage.

Requesting all parents to listen,

And all grandparents,

I am humbling requesting you,

With bowing down,

No one will arrange child marriage,

For their son and daughter,

Don’t push/throw them intentionally into the burden of family life like the ocean.

In family life like ocean,

They will not be able to stay properly,

Everybody will cry loudly,

When they will sink.

End child marriage

“I requested that everybody share the poems with their parents so they will not arrange a marriage for their girls. Recently, one girl stopped me on my way to school and told me that her parents have stopped arranging her marriage because they read the poem,” says Mr. Abdus.

The GRSCSI project has supported him to distribute 500 copies of his poetry book among students, parents, teachers and government officials.

Mr. Abdus and his students with the poetry book
Mr. Abdus and his students with the poetry book.

Education, Emergencies, Protection from violence, child marriage, COVID-19, Disaster risk management