The world is facing an epidemic, but the epidemic isn’t disease-related.
Every day, 39,000 underaged girls marry older men and are robbed of their innocence. To raise awareness against the practice, Norway began a campaign called Stoppbrvllupet, or Stop the Wedding. But the campaign isn’t using ordinary awareness tactics such as signs and TV ads to garner attention; they’re bringing the issue to life.
On October 11, 2014, a 12-year-old Norwegian girl named Thea will marry 37-year-old Geir — unless the public does something to stop it.
Plan Norway, the organization that provides children with a better future in developing countries, planned the wedding to coincide with the UN’s Internatinal Day Of The Girl, a day which seeks to recognize, “highlight, discuss, celebrate and ultimately advance girls’ lives and opportunities across the globe.” Plan Norway explains on their page that they want to expose the horrible practice that child marriage is by juxtaposing it with the happy occasion that it should be.
“Many girls dream about their wedding day and this day is often referred to as one of the happiest days of their lives,” the campaign says on their site. “But for 39,000 young girls who get married every day, their wedding day is the worst day of their life.”
To really drive the point home, Thea consistently contributes to a blog, where the 7th grader details her wedding plans, like cake tasting and dress shopping, leading up to the big day. On October 8, three days before she weds, she wrote a blog (translated to English from Norwegian) titled “I certainly will not become a vet.”
“My dream has always been that I want to be a vet because then I can work with horses and stuff like that all the time. But, when I talked about it today to Mom, she said that I do not really need and work on some things or going to school now that I’m marrying geir.”
In addition to Thea’s “fake” blog, PN has included blogs from real child brides, that detail what their lives are now like as married girls. Including 16-year-old Sadia from Bangledesh, who has a baby.
Although many people have called the police and child welfare services, others are helping on a grander scale by spreading the word. Plan Norway and advocates against child marriage are encouraging people to sponsor a girl. They’re also leading the way on a petition to stop child marriage, which people can use the #stopthewedding hashtag to spread.
And according to Plan Norway’s National Director, Olaf Thommessen, the campaign is working.
“People who normally don’t engage in development issues, are now campaigning to stop child marriage,” he told A+.
With photos like these, it’s now impossible to ignore.