Leaders of different rights groups on Thursday demanded that Bangladesh makes increased investment on education of girls to prevent child marriage and keep retain the kids in schools.
The call came at a virtual press conference held by The National Committee for the International Rural Women's Day Celebration on the eve of the International Rural Women's Day, which will be observed on Friday.
The press briefing discussed the surge in child marriage especially during the COVID pandemic when the educational institutions remained closed for one year and half.
Lack of effective monitoring and measures by the local administration and law enforcement authorities, the return of migrant workers who are seen as perfect grooms, a drop in income, and the perception of girls as a burden, among other factors played a vital role in this regard, it was told in the press conference.
It was also told that dropout rates of girls have increased, which can be seen in the attendance numbers after schools finally reopened on September 12.
Tamanna Rahman, Abu Hanif, Belal Hossain, Lutfor Rahman Labu, Masuda Faruque Ratna, P M Billal, Rashida Begum, Tahrima Afroz, Sheikh Asad, Khondoker Faruk Ahmed, Ashraful Hasan Taimur members of the district committee spoke during the program presided by Shamima Akhter, the chairperson of the committee.
Mustafa Kamal Akhand from equitybd and Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director of COAST Foundation also spoke at the event.
In her keynote address Ferdous Ara Rumee mentioned that Bangladesh ranks fourth in the world in terms of child marriage. The country has more than 4 million child brides, according to the UNICEF.
Furthermore, it has risen at an alarming rate during the pandemic. Due to the continued closure of schools, insolvent rural families have found themselves in a precarious situation. Because the administration and law enforcement authorities are swamped by the pandemic, parents can easily marry off their daughters, she said.
Tamanna Rahman said that the dropout rate of girls has increased, and most of them fell victim to child marriage. Most of these marriages are not registered.
They will be deprived of any legal aid in the future because of this, she said.
Masuda Faruk Ratna said that as administration and law enforcement agencies were busy dealing with the pandemic, they could not implement the initiatives taken against child marriage by the government.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said that different studies showed that the rate of child marriage decreased when girls are engaged in higher secondary education and graduation level. “Therefore, we should focus on increasing expenditure regarding girls’ education,”he said.
Lutfor Rahman Labu said that girls were facing various threats during the pandemic. Many guardians married off their daughters as they were concerned as to when schools would reopen, or how their families would be defaced if girls were to engage in romantic affairs. But this kind of thinking is faulty, he said.
On behalf of the organizers, Mustafa Kamal Akand mentioned that more than 60 districts in the country are celebrating International Rural Women’s Day. Every year, rallies, seminars, demonstrations, fairs, and award-giving ceremonies for rural women with contributions in different sectors are organized to celebrate the occasion.