Preventing child marriage - the ASHIRBAD project
Child marriage is defined as“any marriage carried out below the age of 18 years, before the girl is physically, physiologically and psychologically ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing”. According to the UN, 66% of Bangladeshi girls are married before the age of 18 and approximately a third of women aged 20 to 24 were married by the age of 15. Early marriage in Bangladesh almost always leads to the girl stopping her education. In addition, early pregnancy carries increased health risks for both the mother and child. There is an excellent video here, produced by Al-Jazeera, illustrating the extent and impact of child marriage in Bangladesh
The picture shows a young girl who was going to be married too young, along with Dr Rosemary Croft, LAMB Health Chair. The ASHIRBAD (Bengali: blessing) project, for which LAMB Health helped to raise funding and design, has now completed its 3 years of work to reduce child marriage in one area near LAMB, and promote good reproductive and sexual health. Among other achievements, 24,000 adolescents completed a course in sexual health; the proportion of adolescents attending a reproductive health service rose from 1% to 23%. There was evidence of 66 marriages of young girls that were stopped by their peers along with village leaders, enabling them to stay at school - including the girl in the picture.