Rizal, a 29 year old freelance cameraman, more familiarly known as Cheper, married his wife when she was 17 years old. “At that time, she was still at the 11th grade.”
Cheper is now named as one of the fiercest advocate to increase the marital age in his village of West Nusa Tenggara, in eastern Indonesia. He works hard to get the village government, parents and other men to take part in protecting women and girls from violence and early marriage.
The tipping point for him was the sad realization that he had deprived a young women of her potential. “I realized that I have crushed her dreams. If I could do things differently, I surely would.”
He is now more supportive of his wife, by creating spaces for her to take steps to make her dream come true. “My wife has told me that she wanted to be an author.” he says proudly. Cheper is committed to get his wife back to school so she can finish her education.
In order to eradicate violence against women and girls, it is not enough to empower the women and girls. Effective engagement of men, as potential perpetrators, is also key. The transformation of people like Cheper, from perpetrator to active advocate, makes him a precious ambassador to influence men around him.
Photo: Cecilia Novarina/Oxfam
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