Dola Akhter: The Bangladeshi girl who stopped 600 child marriages
Published: 05:25 PM, 21 September 2020
Child marriage is not the only problem in Bangladesh. Rather it is a major problem in many countries around the world. On average, 23 girls under the age of 18 are getting married every minute in the world. Young girls have to shoulder all the responsibilities of the family before they realize anything about getting married at an early age. Bangladesh is no exception. The rate of child marriage in the country is quite alarming.
According to child rights activists and lawyers, Bangladesh has the highest child marriage rate in the world. More than half of the country’s girls are married off before the age of 18. Besides, about 16 percent of young girls are getting married before the age of 15.
The human rights organization World Vision says that marrying at a very young age is harmful to a girl’s health. Even their education is hampered and they are more likely to spend the rest of their lives in poverty.
Dola Akhter, a teenage girl from Bangladesh, has spoken out against child marriage. Together, she and her colleagues have stopped more than 600 child marriages in the country in the last two years. “When I was only 12, many people in the area used to bring marriage proposals to my mother. Even my mother got married to my father who was 8 years older than her when she was only 13 years old,” said Dola.
Dola is currently 16 years old. Many young activists are now working with her on collaboration with lawyers on child rights. They told the parents about the problems that can occur if they marry their daughter at an early age.
Dola joined World Vision when she was only 10 years old. In the meantime, she has taken some training. Last year, she attended a UN conference in Geneva. There she highlighted the problems of girls in her country and her success in various activities.
About her life, Dola said, “Father wanted a son, but got a girl. To this day, I never heard the word ‘Ma’ from him. Four daughters born in a row in the hope of getting one son.”
Dola’s hardship since childhood, however, that hardship changed her into a protestant entity, a form of self-resistance.
That Dola Akhter Reba is now on the foreign stage. Written on a lovely podium – ‘Dola, Young Leader’. Long microphone right in front of the text. She grabbed it with a light touch and said to everyone sitting in front – “Hello”. Her speech started with a strong voice, firmness in her eyes, and a fearless voice.
Dola currently lives with his father Mohammad Alek and mother Rina Begum in a rented house at Mohammadpur in the capital. She started various service work since sixth-grade, as well as, gaining organizational skills.
She participated in an international seminar on ‘How Children Are participating And Contributing To End Child Marriage’, a seven-day event organized by World Vision Global in Geneva, Switzerland, from October 8 to October 14, 2019. Leaders of children and social organizations from different countries of the world took part in the conference organized on the occasion of International Girl Child Day. Dola took part in the conference on behalf of Bangladesh – where World Vision Bangladesh cooperated with her. Dola was with Sabira Nupur, deputy director of the agency’s Advocacy and Justice for Children. Everyone is surprised, fascinated with Dola’s spontaneous participation, speech in the whole conference
“The biggest gift of my life is this Geneva tour. There were many eloquent and talented people in the selection process. I was elected by surpassing them,” Dola said.
Dola is currently the joint secretary of the central committee of the Bangladesh National Children’s Forum. Apart from education, the organization is working with children, parents, responsible and governmental and non-governmental organizations in 32 districts, 56 upazilas and 168 unions, municipalities and city corporations of Bangladesh to prevent all forms of physical violence against children, child marriage, child labor and child abuse. Its members are conducting SDG awareness and child protection awareness activities for other children and people in the community.