Printed on Sun Dec 05 2021 1:15:22 AM

Child marriage increased due to pandemic

national desk
National
Child marriage
The rate of child marriage in Bangladesh has decreased by 40 percent since independence. However, under the pressure of family and society, 13 million girls have been victims of child marriage before the age of 15.

Another 10 million girls are at risk of child marriage due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to various studies, society still considers girls as a burden, which is one of the main causes of child marriage.

In addition, the indiscriminate misuse of a 'special section' of the False Age Certificate and the Prevention of Child Marriage Act-2017 has also acted as a catalyst behind the alarming increase in child marriages within the pandemic.

This information was presented by Action Aid Bangladesh Program Officer (Young People) Afsana Alim at a webinar titled 'Celebrating International Day of the Girl Child: Progress and Way Forward for Bangladesh' on Monday.

Adolescent girls are at risk of physical and mental health due to child marriage. Afsana said that their risk is increasing as they do not have access to health care as required.

In addition, about two-thirds (72.6 percent) of girls who were married or previously married have been subjected to violence by their husbands at least once or more in their lifetime. She said very few of the victims had lodged formal complaints with the authorities as they had limited contact with the legal process.

Aziza Parveen Bardoash, a 10th-grade class student from Naogaon, works with Shapla Youth Foundation. He presents how all their successes in preventing child marriage due to the pandemic have failed.

"We have not been able to operate properly due to coronavirus restrictions on movement," Aziza said.

"Now again the number of child marriages has increased in our village. Which is a very frustrating thing for us."

Nasima Akhter Jolly, the editor of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, said that in the first 8 months of 2021, a total of 813 girls were raped. During this time, 193 girls died as a result of rape, sexual harassment, and family conflict. 157 people have committed suicide.

Jolly said, 'We need to look at the mental health of girls. Necessary steps have to be taken at the family level in this regard.

According to her, a separate and comprehensive sexual harassment prevention and rehabilitation law should be enacted and implemented to stop sexual harassment and abuse of girls.

International Network 'Girls Not Brides' is working to stop child marriage in Bangladesh. The network's Bangladesh representative Rounaq Jahan said they could not reach out to the community due to the pandemic. As a result, they have not been able to continue their advocacy and legal reform efforts.

However, Rounaq Jahan assured that the network comprising 29 organizations would continue their work on this very important issue by sharing their knowledge and information on various obstacles.

Voice TV/IA
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