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Mousumi’s Story: Stopping Child Marriage Whatever It Takes

Mousumi and the Hana girls

Answering a distress call from a 13-year-old girl, Mousumi jumps into action. The young girl is in tears, having overheard her parents discussing a wedding – hers. She had been taken to another village in hopes of being quietly forced into marriage.

Mousumi, 18, wastes no time. The founder of Hena Girls Power Group is on a mission to stop child abuse and child marriage in her community of West Bengal, India. With COVID-19, child marriages are on the rise as families already in poverty are struggling even more. Giving their children away in marriage means additional income, but risks of abuse and trafficking far outweigh any benefits.

The Hena Girls Power Group brings something unique to the fight on the ground: information. With 45 girls in the team, it’s hard for marriages to occur in their community without someone discovering and reporting it before it happens.

By working with World Vision and local authorities, Mousumi and her team have stopped eight early forced marriages since the pandemic began. And momentum is picking up. In trafficking-prone West Bengal, 291 World Vision-supported Girl Power Groups have formed in just two years.

Mousumi is proud of how far they’ve come, but she knows it’s a long journey ahead.

‘’I want to become an advocate and help people who are in trouble. For my village, my dream is that child marriage, child labour and trafficking will stop.’’

The 13-year-old who made the frantic call did not get married, for Mousumi immediately called World Vision and the child helpline. Together with the police and her village’s Child Protection Committee, they were able to stop the wedding.

For Mousumi, this is what keeps her going. Every child marriage stopped is a girl’s future saved. And for the Hena Girls Power Group, there’s no looking back.

Right now, thousands of girls urgently need sponsors to stand with them as they recover and reclaim a future free of fear. Join the movement to sponsor 1,000 girls by International Day of the Girl on 11 October.

 

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