POST TIME: 28 July, 2021 09:28:26 PM
Resist child marriage
Bangladesh is at the top among the South Asian countries in terms of child marriage rate. Child marriage does not only affect a girls' education but also her physical and mental health. Premature marriage and pregnancy pose a serious risk to the health of both mother and child.
Atia Fairuz Auishe

Resist child marriage

"Give me an educated mother, I shall promise you the birth of a civilized, educated nation"– A popular quote from Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. But has it become still possible to give an educated mother to the present generation? Although the situation has improved a lot compared to the past, there have been huge positive changes in people’s mentality; nevertheless, most of the women of the present age are deprived of education and among several reasons behind this, a quite important reason is child marriage.
We all are very familiar with the term child marriage. This cursed system has now turned into a conventional stream. Child marriage is giving a boy or girl marriage off before their proper age. It can occurr to both boys and girls but is more common for girls. According to the marriage law of Bangladesh government, the minimum age of getting married is 21 for boys and 18 for girls (however, there are difference for special reasons). Despite this, most of the girls are married off before their prescribed age and behind this a family presents their financial, social and also many more reasons as their argument.
Social insecurity, financial insufficiency, the age of girls getting married and the unwanted Corona epidemic that has spread in most of the countries worldwide at present, seem have made child marriage more dynamic than ever before. The long running closure of educational institutions is creating a kind of uncertainty in rural families about the future of girls, leading to child marriage. A study from BRAC found that 85% of child marriages occurred due to worries about the future of girls and 71% occurred due to the closure of educational institutions. Even the charitable institution World Vision fears that 40 million girls around the world could be the victims of child marriage in the next two years. In this context, it can be said that the poverty caused by the epidemic is affecting child marriage and in a developing country like Bangladesh where the poverty rate is already high, the epidemic is rapidly turning child marriage into an ongoing process.

Bangladesh is at the top among the South Asian countries in terms of child marriage rate. Child marriage does not only affect a girls' education but also her physical and mental health. Premature marriage and pregnancy pose a serious risk to the health of both mother and child. Many mothers and newborns also die during childbirth due to physical immaturity and lack of adequate knowledge about health protection during pregnancy and gradually the infant mortality rate also increases. According to the economic survey of Bangladesh 2020, the infant mortality rate in Bangladesh (living under one year) is 21 per thousand. Moreover, it becomes difficult for many girls to adapt to the new environment of another family after getting married at an early age and as a result many of them become mentality and emotionally Inverted.

So, let's briefly discuss what should be the steps to remove the curse:

1. The most important thing to remove the child marriage is to change the family attitude. Most of the poor and lower middle class families are indifferent to girls' education due to their economic instability and weak mentality. They think that a daughter is not as capable of taking the helm of a family as a son is. So, what is the need to lighten the weight of the wealth accumulated for the son by spending it unnecessarily on the daughters? The sooner they can be got married off at a limited cost, the better. But the reality is the complete opposite of their idea. A family needs to understand that a daughter is capable of carrying the burden of not just one but more than one family. They too have the right to get higher education; they're also the wealth of the country and the nation.

2. The safety of the girls should be ensured so that no girl faces any obstacles in her daily life which make a family to be forced to get their daughter married off at an early age.

3. The appropriate type of education should be provided for girls so that they don't have to get worried about their future job or anything else.

4. Special financial assistance should be provided to the poor families so that they become interested in their children’s education instead of giving them in marriage at an early age. In this case, besides the help of the government, the help of the rich people of the society is also highly needed.

5. The evils of child marriage need to be propagated through various social media of the present modern age.

6. Since child marriage is more prevalent in rural areas, it's necessary to form groups in villages to stop the evils of child marriage.

7. The law enacted by the government to eliminate child marriage needs to be properly evaluated.

In addition to the above steps and by taking some more steps, it can be hoped that social and legal crime like child marriage can be prevented from the society. It's the girls who mostly become the victims of child marriage. They suffer more from child marriage than the boys. One of the negative aspects of a girl’s progress is child marriage. Many times under pressure from family or society, a girl inadvertently has to break the wall of her dreams and agree to marry.

The writer is a student, Institute of Education and Research (IER), Jagannath University. E-mail: [email protected]