Research of Human Rights Watch found that one of the major factors pushing these families into such desperate poverty is natural disasters. For many poor families their livelihoods, homes, and land are under threat from flooding, river erosion, cyclones and other disasters.
Direct link between child marriages and natural disasters
Interview with families, done by Human Rights Watch, confirm the link between child marriage and natural disasters. Some families rushed to marry off a daughter in anticipation of losing their home to river erosion. Other families described natural disasters as a recurring stress factor, taking food from the family’s mouths and making child marriage seem like the best option for a girl and the family.
Education and aid
Terre des Hommes Country Manager in Bangladesh, Mahdumul Kabir: “It is important to educate families about the risks and negative impact of child marriage. We explain that even when their situation becomes desperate due to natural disasters, marrying off a daughter is never a solution. In case of emergency, we try to reach families as soon as possible to help them in their needs, help them cope with the situation and monitor that the parents do not marry off their daughters at an early age.”
Prevent child marriages and support early-married girls
Terre des Hommes fights hard to prevent child marriages in Bangladesh. We focus also on girls who are already married . Within our successful programme, called IMAGE, we include the husbands and the in-laws of the early-married girls. After intervention the position of the girl improves; she is more respected and protected. Pregnancies are postponed in order to give the girl the chance to go to school and fully develop to her potential.
Supporting 9.000 girls
From 2014 to 2016, the first phase of project IMAGE provided support in three districts of Bangladesh's northern region to 4500 young girls. To ensure many young girls from other areas can receive support when needed, IMAGE PLUS (December 2016 - 2020) was designed. The target is extended to reach 9,000 early married girls and their families in 72 villages in 3 Northern districts in Bangladesh.
IMAGE PLUS is funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, implemented by Terre des Hommes Netherlands as the lead, with RedOrange Media & Communications Ltd, Terre des hommes Foundation (Kurigram), SKS Foundation (Gaibandha), and Pollisree (Nilphamari).