To achieve something big, it is important that you must have gone through an accident in your life. Because, eventually, you mature with accidents and not with age. Those accidents will compel you to think outside the box, to think bigger in order to achieve bigger; same is the young Hadiqa’s story.
She went through a difficult phase of her life at a very young age but turned out to be a survivor and not a victim. Hadiqa’s story revolves around the issue of child marriage that is sadly ‘not’ an issue in the society.
Hadiqa Bashir belongs to the Swat Valley of Pakistan where child marriage is a norm and girls are even offered for marriages in settlement of disputes. Girls are married at the young ages, and most of them are exploited and are victims of domestic abuse. Hadiqa’s school-going friend was also another victim of child marriage and then of physical abuse by her husband.
Hadiqa’s friend – the victim of child marriage
She got married when they were in sixth grade and was after marriage neither allowed to continue the schooling nor to meet-up with her friends. Once, Hadiqa managed to have a meet-up with her friend where she left devastated as she saw the bruises on her friend’s face and arms.
On enquiring, the friend apprised that her husband has beaten her up with an electric wire. Plaintively, the reality totally contradicted the notion of fairy tale marriage of young teenage girls of a village of Swat.
Hadiqa was encountered that day with the ugliest side of marriage from where her friend can’t back out because of her incomplete schooling and illiteracy – all because she was married at a young age.
A few days later, a proposal of a taxi driver came for Hadiqa to which her grandmother and father started considering seriously. But Hadiqa dauntlessly stood against all the odds and societal pressures; she managed to convince her family about the horrible consequences of child marriages.
Her campaign against child marriages
The 14-year-old Hadiqa back then started a campaign against child marriage in her village. The little activist used to visit homes in her town to regulate the campaign in which she provides the awareness about the drawbacks of the child marriage to the local people.
The young activist was fully supported by her family, but convincing others never remained easy. In patriarchal societies, like in Pakistan, standing up for a girl for ending the ill norms is always confronted and resisted but Hadiqa took the challenge of ending the child marriage from her valley.
“Someone has suggested cutting my tongue while some called me vulgar but I didn’t back out,” Hadiqa said.
Later, with the time, some other girls of the town joined Hadiqa, and they started doing community theaters for awareness and held sessions with legislators to legislate against the child marriage
The another 16-year-old Shabana was a victim of child marriage in Swat Valley; she got married when she was twelve. She was beaten up several times by her husband and once with a pipe brutally. She escaped to her parents’ home several times, but they always took her back to them.
Hadiqa couldn’t save Shabana from the torment of child marriage but was successful in rescuing Shabana’s younger sister who was set to be married at the young age of just seven years.
She convinced her family to defy the conservative norms of society and pushed the family to send the seven-year-old to school.
Honored with International Award
However, international coverage has been given to young activist’s incredible activities, and Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award has been rendered to the courageous girl for her services.
She has successfully stopped many child marriages in her town and has aimed to hold many by raising voice against the child marriage custom. The only one ‘no’ is required to change the society.
“One human being with conviction can bring the real change,” Hadiqa Bashir.