Bangladeshi teenager gets US Woman of Courage award for resisting marriage as child

Sharmin Akter, the Bangladeshi girl who successfully resisted her family’s efforts to marry her off at the age of 15, will be honoured with the International Woman of Courage (IOWC) Award by US First Lady Melania Trump.

Published : 29 March 2017, 10:35 AM
Updated : 29 March 2017, 10:35 AM

When Sharmin was only 15, her mother attempted to stop her education and marry her off to a man decades older than her. But she refused the marriage and eventually succeeded in bringing her mother and prospective husband to justice.
According to the US State Department, Sharmin “demonstrated exceptional courage and self-possession” and “dared to break the silence expected of women and girls and advocated for her rights”.
The International Woman of Courage Award, first presented in 2007, recognises the exceptional courage and leadership of woman around the world who advocate peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great risk to themselves.
A total of 13 women will receive the 2017 International Woman of Courage Award. Among the list are environmental activists, women and children’s rights advocates, peace activists and anti-domestic violence campaigners from across the globe.
Sharmin, now 17, is under the care of her grandmother and attends Rajapur Pilot Girls High School. One day she hopes to become a lawyer and fight practices of early and forced marriage.