Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child (read: girl) marriage in the world; 20% are married off before the age of 15.
This of course means they get pregnant young, and give birth young. This means they get fistulas. This ruins their lives. There are tens of thousands in that situation, as there are in Africa. (In Sudan for instance. In Niger and Kenya. In Nigeria.)
There are people who campaign against child marriage in Bangladesh.
“I do this work because I wanted to put a smile back on the face of the parents,” says Oli Ahmed. He grins as he says it.
Oli is a campaigner who goes around the slum where he lives in Dhaka standing up to his elders and telling them why they shouldn’t marry off their daughters so young.
He’s the same age as Poppy, just 12.
He’s 12!! 12. You’re a good human being, Oli.
“I used to know a girl who was like an older sister to me, but she was forced to get married and never came back.”
It made him very angry and sad…Oli approached Plan International which was already working in his slum in Dhaka.
He told them he wanted to set up a group led by children to try and stop the practice. He goes door to door with a group of friends persuading, scolding and hectoring parents.
One NGO worker says that since they started work, the number of child marriages in that area has dropped by as much as 50%.
“I feel very good that a girl’s life has been saved because of the work that I’ve done,” says Oli.
Now all we need is tens of thousands of 12-year-olds like Oli.