Anyone who loved football had seen red cards being shown to players by a referee for foul play but it would come as a surprise to many to see schoolchildren in Bangladesh showing similar cards to social menaces like child marriage.
During an event on Thursday, hundreds of students of Chunarughat Pilot Girls High School in Habiganj district showed red cards to early marriage.
The schoolchildren vowed to fight against child marriage in their localities and also declared the educational institution free from early marriage.
About 500 students of the institution raised red cards for five minutes and took an oath to prevent child marriage.
Non-government development organisation BRAC organised the campaign against child marriage on the school premises.
Speaking on the occasion, Chunarughat assistant commissioner (land) Tahmina Akther said that the institution had become part of history as it was a massive promise to say ‘No’ to early marriage.
‘We have been working hard over the last few years to keep the school free from early marriage and we will continue to do so,’ headmaster of the school Satyendra Chandra said.
At a similar programme in July 12, 2018, students of Manikganj’s Khan Bahadur Awlad Hossain Khan College took oath to create a society free from eve-teasing and child marriage and showed red cards to these social evils.
In the light of high prevalence of child marriage in Bangladesh, the government and UNDP jointly launched a school-level ‘red card campaign’ against child marriage and sexual harassment under the upazila governance project in 2016.
The Upazila governance project under local government division launched the campaign to raise awareness among school students, teachers, guardians and community people to fight social menaces like child marriage and sexual harassment.
With the technical and financial support of the UNDP, the project prepared ‘red cards’ with slogans against early marriage and sexual harassment for some 195 high schools in 65 upazilas of seven selected districts – Kishoreganj, Brahmanbaria, Sirajganj, Khulna, Barguna, Sunamganj and Rangpur.
The UZGP prepared and distributed red cards among the school students inscribed with messages to stop early marriage and sexual harassment.
Two hotline numbers of upazila nirbahi officer and vice-chair (female) of upazila parishad were also printed on the cards for them to seek help from local administration to prevent the social evils.
A complaint box was also set up in each school and a school-level prevention-committee was formed to address the social ills.
Officials said that after successful implementation of the campaign programme, many other voluntary and development organisations like BRAC and Lal Sobuj Unnayan Sangha (Cumilla) took similar campaigns to create a social movement against child marriage.
Child marriage was a violation of human rights and adversely affected education, health and wellbeing of girls and perpetuated cycles of poverty.
Child brides experienced detrimental physical, psychological and social consequences due to child marriage.
Yet, Bangladesh had one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.
The 2015 government survey showed that in Bangladesh, 52 per cent of women currently aged between 20 and 24 years were married off before the age of 18 while the minimum legal age of marriage for females in Bangladesh was 18 years and 21 for males.
A 2018 UNICEF study revealed that the child marriage rate in Bangladesh was higher and stood at 59 per cent (3.93 million) of the total female population.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country