See More on Facebook

Culture and society

Relentless against child marriage

Farida Yesmin wins an award for her work to prevent child marriage.

Written by

Updated: December 2, 2019

It was a rainy day in July 2018. As the evening fell, someone called Farida Yesmin, upazila nirbahi officer of Netrakona’s Barhatta, over her phone and informed her that a child marriage was about to take place in Kawrashi, a remote village in the upazila near the Bangladesh-India border.

Farida immediately called the police and left for the village in the dark of the night amid rain and thunderstorms.

The road was so bad that at one point, the UNO and her team had to leave their vehicles. They walked about two kilometres to find the girl’s home.

“As we reached the spot, a local leader tried to stop us. But despite all these hurdles, we were able to prevent the marriage,” Farida said while recalling how she and her team stopped a staggering 59 child marriages after she joined as the Barhatta UNO on May 9, 2017.

She also provided financial help to a number of poor girls so that they could continue their studies.

Besides, Farida set up a fund and bought cycles for some 70 girls, who take part in various campaigns against child marriage by riding cycles in Barhatta, which was declared an upazila free of child marriage early this year.

Farida worked in collaboration with local NGOs, schools and journalists to create awareness on the social menace. She also instructed the UP chairmen not to falsify the age of the girls in their birth certificates.

In recognition of her contribution, Farida was given the Faraaz Hossain Courage Award-2019 at a programme in the city’s Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel last evening.

The ceremony started with recitation from the holy books.  A documentary on the life of Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain was screened.

Faraaz, 20, a student of economics at Emory University in Atlanta, US, refused to desert his friends and was brutally killed by terrorists in the July 1, 2016 terror attack at Holey Artisan Bakery at the capital’s Gulshan.

The terrorists specifically targeted foreigners dining at the Gulshan café. They were looking for “infidels”, taking test as to who could recite verses from the Quran and who couldn’t.

Faraaz — son of Simeen Hossain and Waquer Hossain, and grandson of Latifur Rahman, chairman of Transcom Group — recited from the Quran, and was given the chance to walk out of the cafe.

But he chose to stay with his friends — Abinta Kabir, a Bangladesh-born US citizen and a student at Emory University, and Tarishi Jain, an Indian student at the University of California, Berkeley — with whom he had gone to the café on that fateful night.

PepsiCo Global introduced the award in 2016 with a fund of $200,000 which will support a $10,000 prize to be awarded annually for the next 20 years in recognition of acts of exceptional courage by individuals who set examples of empathy for fellow human beings and imbue the Bangladeshi youths with the spirit of bravery, the very spirit that Faraaz symbolises.

PepsiCo India President Ahmed El Sheikh, Bishwo Shahitto Kendro Chairman Prof Abdullah Abu Sayeed and Faraaz’s mother Simeen Hossain handed a check of $10,000, a crest and a certificate to Farida Yesmin.

A jury board comprised of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG, founder of Brac; Prof Abdullah Abu Sayeed, chairman of Bishwo Shahitto Kendro; Nihad Kabir, president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dhaka; Naser Ezaz Bijoy, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank; Sabahat Jahan, teacher, American International School Dhaka; Debasish Deb, country manager, PepsiCo; and Latifur Rahman, grandfather of Faraaz, selected Farida Yesmin out of 860 submissions.

Addressing the award ceremony, the PepsiCo India president, Ahmed El Sheikh, said the world is grateful to Simeen Hossain for bringing up such a child. He demonstrated humanity over cruelty and his sacrifice defeated the terrorists.

“Faraaz’s courage inspires us to stand up against ills in bad times. It brings hope against frustration,” he said.

Ahmed El Sheikh said he was personally inspired by Faraaz to serve humanity.

“Selfless act of Faraaz inspires the future generations of not only Bangladesh, but also those across the world,” he said.

Prof Abdullah Abu Sayeed said the Bangalees fought the Liberation War for achieving freedom and the courage of Faraaz carries a “higher meaning”. “Sacrifice of his life was for higher values like love, humanity and friendship,” he said.

He then said Farida Yesmin braved all odds to prevent child marriages. “She didn’t do it only for her job. She went extra miles. She demonstrated her courage for values, for a social cause. We salute her.”

Simeen Hossain, managing director of Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Ltd, thanked PepsiCo for introducing the award that can help promote the values of Faraaz.

She said the memories of little, playful Faraaz are still fresh in her mind. He was a loving son, affectionate brother and a friend.

She said she is a proud mother as everybody showers her son with love.

Faraaz’s brother Zaraif Ayaat Hossain said the courage of his brother to stand up for friends is a rare example that will continue to shine.

He thanked his mother, saying she had been a role model for Faraaz.

Faraaz used to say, “Let’s make a difference and amaze the world”, said Zaraif, who moderated the event.

In her reaction, Farida, now an additional district magistrate in Mymensingh, said, “I am extremely happy that I have been awarded, but I think my work is little compared to the greatness that Faraaz had demonstrated by sacrificing his life for the sake of humanity and friendship.”

Farida, daughter of Fazlul Haque Chowdhury and Khaleda Begum from Jamalpur, did her post-graduation from Jahangirnagar University. Yesterday was her ninth year in public service.

“I want to continue my work for the rights of women and children. But it’s not enough to prevent child marriages. We should create a society where women can thrive,” said Farida, mother of a son.

She said she would like to dedicate the award to the welfare of women and children.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

Daily Star
About the Author: The Daily Star is a leading English-language daily newspaper in Bangladesh.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Culture and society

Modi defends citizenship decision

PM Modi says it has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, that unity in diversity is integral to India while addressing ‘Aabhar Rally’ at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan today to kick start Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Assembly Elections campaign slated for early next year, amid protests in Delhi and all over the country against the contentious Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizenship(NRC). Modi raised slogan of ‘vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta’ (Unity in diversity is India’s speciality). PM Modi while giving his party and government’s view on CAA and NRC said, “Muslims being misled, I have always ensured that documents will never come in way of development schemes and their beneficiaries.” Citizenship law and NRC have nothing to do with Indian Muslims or with Indian citizens, he clarified. “We have never asked

By The Statesman
December 23, 2019

Culture and society

The Chinese version

Muhammad Amir Rana asks what is the Chinese version of Islam.  TENSIONS between China and the US have escalated after the House of Representative’s Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, 2019. The move is of a piece with the allegations of many international media and human rights organisations that China is persecuting the Uighur community and violating their rights — allegations that Beijing has denied. Calling the US action a political move aimed at damaging its international image, China says it is running a deradicalisation programme to mainstream its communities. Read: Amid global outcry, China defends internment camps of minorities in Xinjiang The Chinese claim has not been verified by independent sources and mystery shrouds its deradicalisation or re-education programme. China needs to demonstra

By Asia News Network
December 16, 2019

Culture and society

India under Modi is moving systematically with a supremacist agenda, says PM Imran

Imran Khan made the comments after India passed a controversial citizenship requirement. Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been moving systematically with a Hindu supremacist agenda. The prime minister was referencing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill passed by India’s upper house amid protests on Wednesday. The bill will let the Indian government grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who entered India from three neighbouring countries before 2015 — but not if they are Muslim. Modi’s government — re-elected in May and under pressure over a slowing economy — says Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are excluded from the legislation because they do not face discrimination in those countries. Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister I

By Asia News Network
December 13, 2019

Culture and society

Nepal moves up in Human Development Index but still lags behind in South Asia

Nepal’s human development index of 0,579 indicates that people are living longer, are more educated and have greater incomes, according to the Human Development Report. Despite global progress in tackling poverty, hunger and disease, a ‘new generation of inequalities’ indicates that many societies are not working as they should and Nepal is not an exception, according to a new human development report released on Tuesday. The old inequalities were based on access to health services and education whereas the new generation of inequalities is based on technology, education and the climate, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report. “Previously, we talked about wealth as a major driver for inequality. Now, countries like Nepal are in another inequality trap and that concerns

By The Kathmandu Post
December 12, 2019

Culture and society

Taiwan among top 10 study destinations for U.S. students

Thailand and Singapore among other Asian destinations. China welcomed the highest number of U.S. students last year, followed by Japan and India in second and third places, respectively, according to a recent survey about exchange students in Asia. South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, and Indonesia rounded up the top 10 list of the most popular Asian countries among U.S. students. According to AsiaExchange, “The high level of education, low exposure to crime, economic freedom and good healthcare system are a few examples of why Taiwan is ranked 2nd on the annual Global Peace Index.” It’s also very safe to live in Taiwan, as crime rates are low, the Website stressed, noting that Taiwan’s focus on human rights, gender equality and freedom of speech has made it a top destination for education. Taiwan, whose institutions are strong and reliable, has remained la

By Warren Fernandez
December 12, 2019

Culture and society

Rental car accidents involving foreign drivers increasing

The number correlates to the increasing number of tourists. As the number of foreign tourists to Japan has increased in recent years, so also has the number of traffic accidents involving rental vehicles with foreign drivers. According to the Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis, 330 such accidents resulting in injury or death occurred from 2014 to 2018, with the accident rate about 5.5 times higher than that for rental vehicles driven by Japanese. Differences in road traffic rules followed in Japan and overseas mainly explain this, and with only about eight months remaining until the start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the government is scrambling to install road signs written in English, including ones to warn drivers approaching dangerous spots. To drive in Japan, a visitor must possess documents including an international dri

By The Japan News
November 29, 2019