Target: Julie Bishop, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Goal: Help Bangladesh stop the practice of child marriage.
In Bangladesh, 29 percent of girls are married before 15 and 65 percent by 18. These young girls are usually left without family other than their new husband and without access to formal education, leaving them to endure abuse and trauma with nowhere to turn. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she would end child marriage by 2021, but the plan has taken a drastic stall, instead bringing up plans to lower the legal marriage age for women.
Child brides often occur out of necessity brought on by poverty, natural disasters or death of parents. The girls often face abuse at the hands of their older husbands as well as endure permanent physical damage to themselves from having children so young. Bangladesh has laws against marriage before 18, but they are not being properly enforced and it is young women who are paying the price.
Australia is one of the largest foreign donators to the improvement of education, health and aid in Bangladesh. Their support of the country and efforts to improve the well-being of its citizens could be influential in making Prime Minister Hasina stay true to her promise to aid the victims of child marriage.
Recently Australia worked to remove forced childhood marriage from the country and showed a firm stance against the practice on their own shores. By properly allocating their aid to helping keep young girls in school and provide shelter for child wives seeking to escape their husbands, they could help Bangladesh to also stopping the practice.
Encourage Australia’s Foreign Minister to negotiate with Bangladesh to help improve the situation for young girls. Offering aid in the proper places and giving the right kind of guidance can help ensure that Bangladesh moves forward in eradicating child marriage.
Dear Foreign Minister Bishop,
Recently Australia has made great strides in preventing the continued practice of child marriage, but Bangladesh, a country receiving large amounts of your foreign aid, is experiencing setbacks in removing the practice from their country.
Child marriage is crippling to young women. They often are met with spousal abuse and physical damages from having children of their own before their bodies are properly developed. A lack of education makes it hard for them to get back on their feet and make a way on their own, despite what the situation at home might be for them. The damages they suffer so young will direct the course and well-being of the rest of their lives and the lives of their children.
Australia offers Bangladesh large amounts of foreign aid. Redirecting this towards education for girls and shelters for those seeking freedom from their marriages could help push Bangladesh out of this tradition. Put Australia’s money into the right places and show Prime Minister Hasina you will not support the continuation of child brides.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Sam Nasim