Rights Not Roses
Ending child, early, and forced marriage in Pakistan
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About the Episode
Ending child, early, and forced marriage in Pakistan: How are community leaders addressing the root causes of the issue?
Child, early, and forced marriage is any marriage—either formal or informal—where at least one of the parties is below the age of 18 and has not expressed full, free, and informed consent. It is a human rights violation, and a harmful practice that disproportionately affects girls. Every year, 12 million girls are married before they turn 18—nearly one every two seconds. It happens in all parts of the world, from the Middle East to Latin America, South Asia to the U.S.
In “Rights Not Roses,” we hear directly from Zarmina, a survivor of early marriage. We meet a network of community activists fighting to end the scourge of child, early, and forced marriage in Pakistan, where 21% of girls are married before the age of 18. These include Rukhshanda Naz, a human rights attorney and long-time women’s rights leader who is fighting in Pakistan’s courts to extricate girls like Zarmina from early and forced marriages, and whose passionate advocacy for ending child marriage is informed by her family’s own experiences.
Meet the Activists: Rukhshanda Naz
Rukhshanda Naz is a Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist. She has been an activist in the Pakistani women’s movement since the early 1990s. A lawyer by profession, she has worked with a number of NGOs on issues of violence against women and children, and on women’s empowerment programs, and is an official advisor for Global Fund for Women. She served one of the country’s leading civil society organizations for women’s rights, Aurat Foundation, as Resident Director from May 1993-May 2008. She’s a leader of Noor Education Trust, an organization that runs shelters for girls escaping child, early, and forced marriage, while also providing legal, medical, and psychosocial services; workshops on gender-based violence and human rights; and more. Most recently, Rukhshanda was head of UN Women Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa/Federally Administered Tribal Areas division. She continues to be a passionate advocate for ending child, early, and forced marriages.
Spotlight on the issue
Gender justice activists are working to end child, early, and forced marriage and make sure all girls have the opportunity to embrace their potential—not just in Pakistan but around the world. Meet some of Global Fund for Women’s grassroots grantee partners who are leaders in the movement to end early marriage.
Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering (RDFL)
"Ending child marriage is fundamental because there is nothing respectful about condemning a young girl to a future of struggle."
The Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering (RDFL) provides legal services, psycho-social services, and support for survivors of gender-based violence. RDFL leads nationwide campaigns to raise awareness about gender equality issues, including #NotBefore18, a campaign against child marriage, which used social media and traditional media to raise support for a nationwide legal marriage age of 18 years old.
Public Foundation "DIA"
"Erasing gender stereotypes is fundamental because with them in place, we cannot achieve gender equality."
Public Foundation “DIA” aims to end child, early, and forced marriage and protect the rights of girls. The group runs large-scale campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of child, early, and forced marriage, using strategies including flash mobs, forum theaters, contests, exhibitions, debates, and media appearances. The group also meets with community and religious leaders to gain support for ending early marriage.
Association for the Advancement and Defense of Women’s Rights (APDF)
The Association for the Advancement and Defense of Women’s Rights (APDF) defends women’s rights, and aims to improve the lives of women and girls on all levels, including socio-economic, legal, political and cultural. Last year, APDF worked with 62 girls who experienced child, early, or forced marriage and assisted with their legal needs and other aspects of their recovery. The group also conducts awareness-raising sessions to educate rural communities across Mali about the dangers of early marriage.
“Gender justice is fundamental because our daughters should experience more opportunities and less discrimination than we have.”
YTTO Foundation fights against all kinds of violence against women, and for the last decade has worked to end early marriage in Morocco. The group advocates and organizes for legal and socio-economic changes to establish gender equality and allow all women and girls to fully enjoy their rights. YTTO continues the fight against child marriage,which is particularly an issue in rural and hard-to-reach regions in Morocco.
Facts & Figures
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