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 communication, 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 costs of social sanctions. Due to the nature of social norms, counter-communication is necessary to challenge and change 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 harmful impact of these norms and practices as well as the need for change; promote an alternative 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 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• Outdated: More and more people are moving away from child marriage.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 garnering attention, and in voicing protests, the campaign suggests a beat or rhythm for everyone to rally around together in order to raise their voices and report any incidents of child marriage. The aim is to trigger an easy, participatory and highly visible action that reflects increasing public intolerance and actions against 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 such as Facebook, YouTube and mobile messaging will be used to promote the campaign and create an interactive platform for adolescents and their parents.
This national multimedia campaign is a part of a larger Communication for Development (C4D)/ Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) Strategy to end child marriage, and will go hand-in-hand with on-ground social mobilization and community engagement efforts in high child-marriage prevalent districts. It has been developed under the ‘Enabling Environment for Child Rights’ Programme of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and UNICEF. Key partners include UNFPA and the Ministry of Information. Funding for this phase of the campaign has been provided by the Government of Canada. The campaign has been designed by Asiatic JWT.