The Issue: “Swara,” or the settling of disputes with the compensation marriages of young girls, is a persistent issue in parts of Pakistan. A socially and culturally grounded effort that challenged the norms that perpetuate compensation marriages was needed.
The Effort: Ethnomedia Pakistan developed a multidimensional campaign, “'Bol’ Speak Up Against Early Marriages in the Name of Culture” that utilized many forms of media including radio, television, print media and folk art to speak out against compensation marriages. A female mascot was also developed to bring for the women role models that promoted gender equitable norms and violence free environment, respect and dialogue.
The Audience: This particular campaign reached out to general public, men and boys in particular, in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (Pakistan). Women rights issues are mostly restricted to women. The aim of this campaign was to have men on board for a lasting and sustainable change.
The Result: The campaign was met with highly positive feedback and impact. Most of the local rickshaw and truck owners volunteered to get their vehicles painted because of the culturally and religiously relevant messages, and local media highlighted the campaign for its unique and effective approach. The campaign has since been replicated by several other local organizations and NGOs in Pakistan.
In addition, one of Ethnomedia’s videos has helped in spurring legislation against handing over girls as compensation to end disputes. In fact, the video was also used as evidence in the first-ever case against the custom in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The Bottom Line: According to Girls Not Brides, one in three girls in the Global South are married before age 18. If we fail to act, an estimated 142 million girls will be married as children by the end of the decade.
The Next Level: Child marriage is a global problem that is perpetuated in many countries and by many cultures. Here is a report on how a variety of stakeholders believe child marriage can be prevented in Bangladesh. There is no single solution to this issue, however there are some promising strategies: here is a report on girls’ empowerment and how it can lead to ending child marriage. The International Center for Research on Women prepared both reports