National: Child Marriage Free Zone

PHR established Social Protection Groups (SPGs) in all 102 Unions where it works. SPGs operate as frontline, gender-based violence (GBV) prevention groups in the community. Acting as watchdogs, they monitor and report incidence of GBV in their Unions. SPGs are an extension of the Union Parishad’s (UP) Standing Committee for the “resolution of family conflict and welfare of women and children”. The Chairperson of the UP is the convener of SPG. SPGs make a visible contribution to the reduction of DV that can be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively.

One of the significant activities of SPGs is the prevention of child marriage and they have played an instrumental role in this area. SPGs, working together with local government, have already prevented more than 1200 child marriages between 2012 and 2015. Child marriage has been meaningfully reduced because of their rigorous intervention in the communities as gate keepers. There are Unions where no child marriage took place in the last six months. Under these circumstances, some SPGs informed PHR that they would like to declare themselves as Child Marriage-Free Unions as recognition of their efforts. At present, there are 33 Unions (out of 102) and two Upazilas that have declared themselves to be free of child marriage while the others in the process of doing so.

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