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Dola Akter Reba
Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. Dola Akter Reba – Ending Child Marriages

Dola Akter Reba – Ending Child Marriages

There are 12 million girls under the age of 18 are married each year. That means 23 girls are married each minute, with one girl about every 3 seconds having her childhood and freedom robbed. Family members arrange child marriages, and the girls typically don’t even choose who they have to marry. Child marriages are internationally identified as gender-based violence, both of which are considered to be human rights violations. This is an issue that is commonly overlooked in many parts of the world, but people like Dola Akter Reba are striving to create reforms by splitting these marriages and allowing women to have more freedom.

Child marriages happen all around the world in different countries, cultures, and ethnicities, but it is much more common than it seems. Over 650 million women alive today were married before the age of 18, and that number only gets higher daily.  Child marriages increase the amount of risk of domestic/physical, sexual, and psychological violence. They put women at a higher risk of poor mental health, such as anxiety and depression, and sharply increase rates of femicide and suicide. They also take away educational and employment opportunities.

This treatment of women is unfair and discriminatory. It is deeply rooted in patriarchal society. However, many people, especially teenagers, are standing up and taking action to stop this hatred and discrimination in our future.

How Dola Akter Reba Is Taking Action

One of the people taking action is Dola Akter Reba. Dola is eighteen years old now, but has been working on the cause for multiple years. She works in her home country of Bangladesh, which also happens to have the second highest number of child brides in the world. Dola has stopped over 700 marriages in the past few years. She also works to eliminate child marriages by using the system.

Dola is a member of The National Youth World Forum, a group of hundreds of activists working all over Bangladesh on issues related to children, their rights and protection, and stopping child abuse and marriages. She has created and organized campaigns in schools, educating around 12,000 students about child marriages. During the pandemic, she and her team held over 70 Facebook Lives, teaching around 500,000 people about child marriages and rights.

Child Marriages “Hit Home”

Dola became motivated to stop child marriages after learning about how her mother never had a full childhood or education, being a child bride. This issue “hit home”, so to speak, making her have a deeper connection and commitment to abolishing the child bride cycle. After learning about how bad the child bride problem was, she dedicated her time to splitting child marriages, speaking out against them, and saving young girls. She has achieved great measures, but is not backing down yet.

Dola’s greatest goal is to eliminate child marriage and child abuse forever. She wants to ensure that no child younger than the age of 18 gets married in Bangladesh. But some more personal goals that she has include, creating a mobile app and website where anyone can submit a complaint of child marriage or abuse and receive legal assistance immediately. She also wants to educate 100,000 children on self-defense and co-educational activities by 2025.

Not Backing Down

It is hard to imagine having a “childhood”, where you are considered to be subservient to a man who could be twice your age. Being forced to do house chores all day, everyday. To not be able to have an education or pursue a career. To possibly be abused and fall into a dark place at such a young age, with no way out. But these situations are surprisingly common. Dola is working hard to get as many people out of these situations as possible, and she is not backing down.

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Hannah

Hannah

Founder, Smart Girl, Survivor, Champion of womens rights and kids rights

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