Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world and the practice remains socially acceptable in many parts of the country. Child marriage is driven by a range of socio-economic and cultural factors and maintained by tradition. Factors that increase the risk of child marriage in Bangladesh include poverty and fear for girls’ safety and security, as well as a complex tangle of social norms and beliefs.
Social norms are of an informational nature and spread through personal interaction and networks. They prevail because of perceived or real societal pressure on individuals. Individual actions conform to the norm of the society to reduce cost of social sanction. Due to the nature of social norms, effective communication is critical in challenging and changing them when they are considered harmful as in the case of child marriage. Strategic media and communication, based on information dissemination and dialogue, can provide evidence of the impact of these norms and practices as well as the need for change; promote a new reality of the desired ‘normal’; and address perceived social pressure, beliefs and expectations through accelerating public intolerance. The National Multimedia Campaign launched on 31st July 2017 is a step towards this direction.
The campaign declares child marriage as unacceptable, because it is:
- Harmful: child marriage does not protect or benefit a girl. It robs her of her childhood and opportunities in life. It does not benefit any community or society; an educated youth paves the way for a better future for the country.
- Illegal: Child marriage is illegal, the laws are very clear and it is a punishable offence. Ignorance and negligence are not be an excuse.
- Outdated: More and more people are moving away from child marriage. It is not necessary, and it is damaging to a society.
The campaign promotes prevention as a universal personal responsibility. The campaign is designed to make prevention and active rejection of child marriage everyone’s responsibility. It focuses on positive actions, and seeks to promote the idea that when individual actions are added together, they can create a collective movement that ultimately contributes to larger social change.
Everyone has a role to play and something they can do:
- Research: Learn more about the impacts and effects of child marriage.
- Refrain: Abstain from participating in or attending child marriages within your family, neighbourhood and larger community.
- Resist: Resist any attempts that engage you in organizing or facilitating a child marriage.
- Raise: Raise your voice against any child marriage that is being planned or taking place within your family, neighbourhood or larger community.
- Rally: Mobilize and connect with your family, friends, neighbours, larger community and local authorities to take a stand against child marriage.
- Report: Reach out to, and inform, your respective local authorities about any planned or occurring child marriage events within your family, neighbourhood or larger community.
Campaign theme: ‘Raise the Beat’
Using the traditional ‘Dhol’ or drum as a symbol of gaining attention and voicing protest, the campaign suggests a beat or rhythm for everyone to rally around together to raise their voice and report child marriage. The aim is to trigger an easy, participatory and highly visible action that reflects increasing public intolerance and action against child marriage.
Raise the beat to end child marriage
- Mass media
o 5 TV spots: Produced by Asiatic JWT
o 5 radio spots: Produced by Bangladesh Betar
o 26-episode TV drama series (to run for 6 months): Produced by Asiatic JWT
o 26-episode radio drama series: Produced by Bangladesh Betar
o 90 mins docu-drama [to be screened at mobile film shows]: Produced by Asiatic JWT
o Press ads
o Launch event at national level
o 4 Launch events at sub-national locations
o 5 Posters
o Wall paintings
- Social/Digital media
o Digital media like Facebook, YouTube and mobile messaging will be used to promote the campaign and create an interactive platform for adolescents and their parents.
This campaign has been developed under the ‘Enabling Environment for Child Rights’ Programme of UNICEF and the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs. Key partners include UNICEF and UNFPA. Funding has been provided by the Government of Canada. The campaign has been produced by Asiatic JWT. Other partners include Ministry of Information.