The Front Line of My Life: Transformation and Behavior Change

Sadaf Kashif
Posted March 4, 2016 from Pakistan

Less than half an hour drive through broken road took me to a very small village near Multan, southern region of Punjab in Pakistan. I was standing outside the roughly made three room mud house. Few hens were roaming in the courtyard whereas two goats were grazing in the small paved available garden across the courtyard. Birds sitting on the tree were chirping and that was the constant source of amusement. While I was amusing from all this suddenly a nine years old girl came out from room while holding a doll in her hands. This is “Shazia,” nine years old, after a month she would be among those girls who will become brides in their childhood.

I visited this village to enhance my knowledge and to learn about the married lives of these small girls. My purpose was also to aware myself and learn about the views of the elders of this community regarding this custom and to evaluate the possibilities to change their views and the level of adoption for awareness sessions.

While crossing me Shazia payed regards to me and passed a hesitant shy smile. I looked at her with great concern and offered her a chocolate to gain her trust. I asked about her hobbies, her toys and friends to peel off her hesitation. She told her dream is to become teacher. She was unaware about the concept of marriage. After this short discussion she went outside the home and started playing with her age fellows.

After a short span of time I was being surrounded by the group of females who were victims of child marriage. Jamela, 26, mother of Shazia recalls her marriage day. She was playing with her friends when her mother came and took her home to getting ready. She was told to get ready for participating in some home function.

“I don’t remember what exactly my age was.” said Jamela. “I was too little to become a bride.” She became sad while narrating all this. “My dreams were ruined and all opportunities were demolished due to this ugly custom.” Another woman told. Almost all of them told that they have spent their lives in isolation. They don’t remember how they got pregnant and how they delivered their babies.

Jamela wants her daughter to study. She wants to put all those wishes and dreams to her cart, she was not able to fulfill due to deep rooted ugly customs she cannot stop her daughter to get married and become a bride in her childhood. Shazia is about ten whereas her groom is 21 years old. I was seeing a pain in her eyes for her daughter.

While roaming on the streets of the village I got an opportunity to have some discussion with some of the males and elders of that community. I felt that a few men were against this custom and there was flexibility and adoptability for change in custom. Elders were more rigid whereas young who were also married to small age girls were ready to talk against child marriage.

While returning from this village there was a ray of hope in my eyes. My vision for changing the concept of child marriage was clear. My trip gave me the strength to believe that I am capable and worthy to play my role for changing the mindset of this community. Later I arranged awareness sessions with Jamela and her husband. Both were against the marriage of their daughter and her to be empowered but due to the community pressure they failed to stop the marriage of Shazia.

One thing is clear from my this experience that one day I would be successful in changing the mindset as customs needs time to be changed.

Comments 7

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Usri
Mar 06, 2016
Mar 06, 2016

Hi Bella! You really put your thought so wonderfully through the lens of existing realities prevailing in your country. People from other communities where thankfully such a custom is not prevalent, after reading your article even they can feel the pain of child marriage . The way you have portrayed Sazia’s parents, Jamela’s own experience with child marriage and her helplessness is really touching. Moreover, you have really nailed down the problem and how gradually society is changing to address such a social malice.  Just read this article on child marriage and felt like sharing with you: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/11/yemen-child-br...

Mkandeh
Mar 08, 2016
Mar 08, 2016

Hi Bella,

Child Marriage is such a global problem. I love the way you have painted the picture of what the problem is like in your community, through the words and experience of victims. Your story also revealed the other aspect of child marriege that is often ignored; psychological and emotional damage it causes to girls and women. It is really important we continue to raise our voices on the many issues affecting girls and women in our communities.

Love and appreciation

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Mar 10, 2016
Mar 10, 2016

Bellabee,

It is very sad that people still beleive in such customs and many young girls fall victims of such customs. It is very heart breaking to have such young girls get married when they have not matured. They are robbed of their childhood and innocence. I am sure you are going to make a very big difference in your community.

Stay blessed and continue with th egood work that you are doing

ARREY - ECHI
Mar 11, 2016
Mar 11, 2016

Hi Bellabee, You take the reader through this village with your vivid description of child marriages. Innocence is lost and parents are often helpless to stop it because of the shackles of a barbaric custom. It is good to notice a ray of hope that not everyone is for child marriages. I guess making those against your target will go a long way in impacting change to this community. All the best. Arrey

Joseph-Jacques MUGEREKE KISAHIRA
Mar 18, 2016
Mar 18, 2016

English:Hello, BELLA BEE.Thank you very much for having shared us this brilliant Poste that is so ingeniously and professionally introduced. Congratulations!This Post makes me believe in your qualities of an inspired leader, knowing her story, that of his family and that of his community. In fact you brilliantly describe the challenges and obstacles you and your community face, and the ways and means to overcome them.The story of "Shazia," reinforces me in the belief that really, we are all citizens of the same world we inherited from common ancestors, no matter where we live on the earth and as far as we can be separated from each other.Indeed, I could not imagine that early marriage phenomenon would be found in Pakistani communities also. I had always believed that early marriage phenomenon was the matter of Africa and Africans!The responses from "Shazia" to your questions; her toys and her dream for the future illustrate the fact that she is an innocent teenager, who still has no use for a wedding she is not aware of and in which she would not have agreed!Let us frankly say that marry his daughter at the age of 9 years, what an odious cynicism!That's the kind of fight all women and men of World Pulse community should mobilize against. As activists we must by all means discourage such practices.Finally, thank you for your courageous lute, BELLA BEE! Hold strong. Your fight is entirely legitimate and everyone in the World Pulse Community must arm themselves with the same determination as yours, for the struggle against the weight of backward customs maintained by some communities around the world, nostalgic of obsolete practices from Antiquities and Means Ages!The future and the liberation of women of tomorrow depend on the courage and determination of all women and men activists of today, who dream of a better world where it be good to live and where the fundamental right everyone [children, women, men …] be promoted and respected.Have a good day, BELLA BEE.Joseph-Jacques.-

French:Bonjour BELLA BEE.Merci beaucoup de nous avoir partagés ce brillant Poste qui est si ingénieusement et si professionnellement introduit [d’une manière captivante au lecteur, et dans un style de roman policier.] Félicitation !Ce Poste me fait croire en vos qualités de Leader inspirée, sachant raconter son histoire, celle de sa famille, et celle de sa communauté ; et décrire avec brio les défis et obstacles auxquels soi-même et les siens sont confrontées, et les voies et moyens pour vaincre ces défis. Votre récit vient renforcer ma croyance que réellement, nous sommes tous Citoyennes et Citoyens d’un même monde nous légué par des ancêtres communs, peu importe où nous vivions sur le terre et aussi loin que nous puissions être séparés les uns aux autres. En effet, Je ne pouvais m’imaginer que le phénomène de mariage précoce se passa également au Pakistan. J’avais toujours cru que le mariage précoce était l’affaire de l’Afrique et des Africains! Les réponses de “Shazia,” à vos questions, ses jouets et son rêve pour l’avenir illustrent bien le fait qu’elle n’est encore qu’une innocente adolescente, qui n’a encore que faire d’un mariage dont elle n’a pas conscience et auquel elle ne consent pas !Qu’on se le dise franchement, marier sa fille à l’âge de 9 ans, quelle cynisme ! Voilà le genre de combat autour duquel toutes les femmes et tous les hommes de la communauté de World Pulse devraient se mobiliser. Il nous faut, par tous les moyens décourager ce genre de pratiques.

Enfin, courage dans votre lute BELLA BEE. Tenez fort. Votre combat est tout à fait légitime et tout le monde au sein de la Communauté World Pulse doit s’armer de la même détermination que la vôtre, en vue de la lutte contre le poids des coutumes rétrogrades entretenus par certaines communautés de partout au monde, nostalgiques des pratiques dépassées des Antiquités et Moyens Ages ! L’avenir et la libération des femmes de demain dépendront du courage et de la détermination de toutes les femmes et tous les hommes activistes d’aujourd’hui, qui rêvent d’un monde meilleurs où il fasse bon vivre, et où le droit fondamental tout le monde : enfants, femmes, hommes seront promus et respectés. Bonne journée à vous.Joseph-Jacques.-

Sadaf Kashif
Mar 18, 2016
Mar 18, 2016

Respected Joseph Jacques, Thank you so much for your courageous reply. We all around the globe are experiencing this issue. The roots of this evil are deep rooted. We all have to fight for this. Regarda

Carolyn Seaman
Mar 28, 2016
Mar 28, 2016

Dear Bella,

I love the imaginations you make me draw from your narrative. I share your passion challenging early marriage of girls. And I also work to amplify girls voices on the issue because the girls' voice is often ignored. And various interventions already target to change the custom and practice. I hope that the voices of the girls helps to draw emotional consideration from the people and also boost the power of the girls to better negotiate some bit of delay to the marriage (to complete their basic primary and secondary education at the minimum). In Nigeria, this is the approach we are taking to negotiate the delay to help the girls complete their primary and secondary education which would put them at about 18-19 years old before they get married. We are yet to achieve much here in Nigeria too. Best wishes in fulfilling your goal my Sister!

Warm regards,