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Activist of the day: Meet Sm Kaiyum, activist against child marriage, Bangladesh.

Give me a little background about you and your journey as a peace activist: when did it begin and how?

This is SM Kaiyum, I am a Human Rights activist from Bangladesh. I live in Dhaka the Capital. I began my career as a Journalist before joining Human Rights Activism. I worked for this campaign until 2013 and advocated against Child Marriage, a rampant social issue in Bangladesh. I am engaged in promoting girl child’s education and have different initiatives for Women Empowerment, Youth Engagement & Prevention of Extremism. I have led peaceful protests throughout Dhaka to advocate for this these issues. Together with my team with engage in one on one conversation passengers, enter shopping malls, market places, hospitals, colleges, and tribal communities with our signs.

What are your key achievements and issues you are responding to in relation to your activism work? (eg: Trauma Healing, Human Trafficking, Women empowerment, etc)

My campaign is a part of the SGDs; I am working in the Gender Equality goal with a focus on child protecting from early marriage. We raise awareness of side effects of child marriage practices to the physical, psychological and mental health of children. Early marriage affect the girl child significantly. Young brides are both physically and emotionally not ready to give birth, face a higher risk of death in childbirth, and face intense social pressure to prove their fertility. Moreover, the health of their children suffers too and it is extremely difficult for these girls to their Rights with husbands who are usually older.

Since 2013 the “Joyeeta Campaign” is our most significant and effective campaign to date on Child Marriage. (#Goal for Girls Education for Equality,) as Tag line for the campaign. This campaign targets secondary schools across the country where underage girls. To promoting the awareness strongly, I also invite their guardians, teacher, social activist, people’s representative, civilian peoples and media activist to get better response on regarding the protection of Child Marriage. The campaign is unique because it is first time something like this happens in Bangladesh. In addition, recently the Government of Bangladesh has launched a Red Card Campaign at school-level to prevent child marriage and sexual harassment. The campaign targets 150,000 high school students, teachers, guardians and community people to help spread awareness messages with slogans in red cards. More, Education is the back bone of the nation, so higher education might bring to improve the violence and to end child marriage.

What keeps you going and give you inspiration in your work? What gives you hope?

“A positive outlook to society can remove the violence against women and change the world through peaceceful actions”. I have been inspired by wonderful and bold women who continue to raise their voices against child marriage in Bangladesh. I believe and hope that with pure intention we can get rid of cultural practices that encourage child Marriage and domestic violence. By empowering girls, women & youth to work in a strong coalition we can help our societies thrive even more.

What are some challenges organizations addressing youth radicalization to extremist groups in Bangladesh face and what is bluebird playing to address this issue?

Recently Bangladesh has experienced manifestations of extremist groups but doesn’t have prior experience of dealing with these groups. Now the Bangladesh government is thinking of and making plans to face and to stop their horrible activity. But the main problem is that some students are engaged with extremist groups that have orchestrated recent attacks. Those students are youth. Youth is main target of activism against extremist groups. We think that there is lack of understanding of religious views that patronize terrorist activities. The challenge is how to identify youth already engaged in extremist groups and find ways to rehabilitate them.
HRI organization is playing a major advocacy role by creating awareness among youth on this issue by organizing joint movement with other organizations to prevent extremism through active participation of youth.

What would you consider to be the most difficult period of your activism journey and what did you do to go through that period?

It does infuriate me when I hear a young girl is married off to an adult . As a result, dreams and hopes of such a teenage girl get shattered. There also is a major health risk. Many even die while giving birth. The basic right of a teenage girl is taken away depriving her of the opportunity to pursue higher education. I can’t believe and it pains me that a man tortures his wife, demands dowry from her and sometimes kills his life partner, leaving his family and children orphaned. So its most difficult period of my activism journey. I am against those that commit such kind of violence/unjust etc. That is why I am working to protect teenage girls from early child marriage and raising awareness on this issue. And the main objective is to reach sustainable peace building in the community. That is why I can say, “Humans are for humans. This beautiful planet belongs to all of us and everyone’s rights matters.”

To connect with SmKaiyum and learn more about his child protection work in Bangladesh write him to his email address at Stay tuned.

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