From blogger Rana Tassawar Ali, May 30 2014 - Dekho Bolo Roko is a message, a message against child marriage. Pakistan faces an inherent social problem that is now a clinical or health problem. In Pakistan, according to a survey, more than 25 percent of girls marry before they reach 18 years of age. The marriages of child brides are common practices in rural and slum areas of Pakistan.
The Rutgers WPF is an organization in Pakistan working to stop poor practices that lead to problems in reproductive health. The Rutgers WPF launched a campaign, Dekho Bolo Roko, which means look, speak against and stop this bad practice. The purpose of the campaign is that Pakistan should become a child-marriage-free country, so that children live healthy lives and girls enjoy their rights fully. The campaign messages reflect the fact that the young age of children being married is traditional in Pakistan, but the wedding of a child has consequences on her health that are very prolonged. In Pakistan, where, in many cases, girls are sold to men of an older age, a girl will likely be faced with different health problems her whole life. In the effort for ending this tradition, Rutgers WPF gathered organizations to work collectively on an important piece of legislation: the Sindh Marriages Restraint Bill 2013, approved by the Sindh parliament. Now the organization is working for the same legislation throughout the whole country. This bill is the first document to declare child marriage as a criminal act.
The law needs to be implemented to protect girls from child marriages, which it could do better if the law were expanded. The impact of the law should be identical to the effect of the Rutgers WPF campaign Dekho Bolo Roko, in that people pledge that they will not marry their children before 18 years of age. The real positive long-term effect of the act should be on children’s health and development. In order to enhance the law’s effectiveness, the capacity and sensitization of police and local authorities should be the priority of the government and civil society. It is a healthy sign that people of Pakistan are pledging through Dekho Bolo Roko cards, thus showing their commitment to stopping child marriages. The change in mindset and people’s interest and organizational commitment may prove that soon Pakistan will be a child-marriage-free country, and children will no longer be considered eligible for marriage.