Around 34.5 mln women in Bangladesh were married before they turned 18: Unicef
In Bangladesh, 51 per cent of young women were married in childhood, according to a new report which used data from the Bangladesh 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey. Bangladesh has the highest prevalence of child marriage in South Asia and the eighth highest prevalence in the world, according to a new analysis issued by UNICEF today. Approximately 34.5 million women in Bangladesh were married before they turned 18 and over 13 million women were married before they turned 15. “Children should not be married. Despite progress, the number of child brides in Bangladesh is staggering. Millions of girls are being robbed of their childhood, and denied their fundamental rights. We need urgent and concerted action to protect girls, to ensure that they stay in school, and have the opportunity to grow up to their fullest potential,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. Despite a steady decline in child marriage in the last decade, multiple crises including conflict, climate shocks, and the ongoing fallout from COVID-19 are threatening to reverse hard-earned gains, according to a new analysis issued by UNICEF today. “The world is engulfed by crises on top of crises that are crushing the hopes and dreams of vulnerable children, especially girls who should be students, not brides,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Health and economic crises, escalating armed conflicts, and the ravaging effects of climate change are forcing families to seek a false sense of refuge in child marriage. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that their rights to an education and empowered lives are secured.” Worldwide, an estimated 640 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood, or 12 million girls per year, according to the latest global estimate included in the analysis. The share of young women who married in childhood has declined from 21 per cent to 19 per cent since the last estimates were released five years ago. However, in spite of this progress, global reductions would have to be 20 times faster to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of ending child marriage by 2030. Meanwhile, South Asia continues to drive global reductions and is on pace to eliminate child marriage in about 55 years, the report notes. However, the region remains home to nearly half (45 per cent) of the world's child brides. While India has recorded significant progress in recent decades, it still accounts for one-third of the global total. Sub-Saharan Africa – which currently shoulders the second largest global share of child brides (20 per cent) – is over 200 years away from ending the practice at its current pace. Rapid population growth, alongside ongoing crises, look set to increase the number of child brides, in contrast with the declines expected in the rest of the world. Latin America and the Caribbean is also falling behind and on course to have the second-highest regional level of child marriage by 2030. After periods of steady progress, the Middle East and North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia have also stagnated. Girls who marry in childhood face immediate and lifelong consequences. They are less likely to remain in school, and face an increased risk of early pregnancy, in turn increasing the risk of child and maternal health complications and mortality. The practice can also isolate girls from family and friends, and exclude them from participating in their communities, taking a heavy toll on their mental health and well-being. Worldwide, conflict, climate-related disasters, and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 – especially rising poverty, income shocks, and school dropout – are helping to increase the drivers of child marriage while also making it difficult for girls to access health care, education, social services and community support that protect them from child marriage. As a result, girls living in fragile settings are twice as likely to become child brides as the average girl globally, the analysis notes. For every ten-fold increase in conflict-related deaths, there is a 7 per cent increase in the number of child marriages. At the same time, extreme weather events driven by climate change increase a girl's risk, with every 10 per cent deviation in rainfall connected to around a 1 per cent increase in the prevalence of child marriage. Precious gains to end child marriage in the past decade are also being threatened – or even reversed – by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the analysis warns. It is estimated that the pandemic has already cut the number of averted child marriages since 2020 by one-quarter. "We’ve proven that progress to end child marriage is possible. It requires unwavering support for vulnerable girls and families,” added Russell. “We must focus on keeping girls in school and making sure they have economic opportunities."
Child marriage ban bill resurrected in West Virginia Senate
A bill to prohibit minors from getting married in West Virginia was resurrected in the state Senate on Thursday, a day after its defeat in a committee. The about-face didn't necessarily give the bill a clear path to passage. Several senators gave impassioned speeches after the bill was brought back, some of whom defended the right of teenagers in love to marry. The House of Delegates passed the bill last week. The Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly rejected it Wednesday night without debate. Republican Sen. Charles Trump of Morgan County, a committee member, made a motion that was adopted by the full Senate Thursday to withdraw the bill from the committee and give it a second reading. It will be up for a final reading Friday, and the Senate will have the right to amend the bill. Currently, children can marry as young as 16 in West Virginia with parental consent. Anyone younger than that also must get a judge’s waiver. The bill's main sponsor, Democratic Del. Kayla Young of Kanawha County, has said that since 2000 there have been more than 3,600 marriages in the state involving one or more children. Cabell County Democratic Sen. Mike Woelfel, an attorney, said he represented a girl who got both married and divorced when she was in the eighth grade. Woelfel said he was concerned about older men who court young girls “and the next thing you know, some young girl has convinced her parents to let her get married.” “What we have here is a good bill, because it does recognize that we aren’t in the 1950s or ’60s,” Woelfel said. “I think we’re moving into the modern era with this." Both Kanawha County Republican Sen. Mike Stuart, a former federal prosecutor, said he supports the age of 16 to marry. Stuart said his parents 50 years later “are still giddy teenagers” who were married at age 16. Putnam County Republican Sen. Eric Tarr said he got married in high school but understands problems need to be addressed in the bill. "Knowing what it means to be two mature high school students in love and getting married and creating a life together, that's a family born and a family that stays together," Tarr said. “I think every one of us in this chamber values that and understands that.” The bill would establish that 18 is the age of consent and remove the ability of a minor to obtain consent through their parents, legal guardians, or by court petition. Existing legal marriages, including those done in other states, would be unaffected. According to the nonprofit group Unchained At Last, which seeks to end forced and child marriage, seven states have set the minimum age for marriage at 18, all since 2018. Supporters of such legislation say it reduces domestic violence, unwanted pregnancies and improves the lives of teens. Although recent figures are unavailable, according to the Pew Research Center, West Virginia had the highest rate of child marriages among the states in 2014, when the state's five-year average was 7.1 marriages for every 1,000 children ages 15 to 17.
Child marriage: Bagerhat parents, kazi get 6-month imprisonment
Parents of two minors and a kazi – legally empowered to register Muslim marriages and divorces – were sentenced to six months imprisonment for their involvement in child marriages in Bagerhat. Musabberul Islam, Bagerhat Sadar upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) and executive magistrate, conducted the mobile court Friday night at a kazi office in Nagerbazar. Read: Three to die for raping girl in Feni The mobile court handed down the punishment to Ataul Bari, a kazi, Kabir Sardar, father of a minor girl from the village Fatepur of Sadar upazila, and Sajib Howladar, father of a minor boy from the Gobardia area.
Pilot project on loans to prevent child marriage lunched in Bogura
Amal Foundation, a local NGO, has teamed up with IPDC, a leading NBFI, to prevent child marriage. The two firms are the implementers of a pilot project that seeks to prevent child marriage through loan provision. This experimental Child Marriage Prevention Loan (CMPL) project has been launched in Bogura district in March. CMPL is a conditional zero-interest microfinance loan that assists underprivileged parents in establishing long-term businesses if they match three criteria. The first condition being, only parents of a 12- to 18-year-old girl child can apply for a loan. Secondly, a girl child cannot be married before she reaches the legal age. Finally, the girl child must be educated until high school, said a media release. READ: Bad loans bite Bangladesh banks hard Parents vow to marry their daughters off only when they have completed high school and are of legal marrying age. After providing the loan Amal Foundation assists the parents in creating sustainable businesses. They also provide training in business management. Both the organisations believe that the collective effort will result in delivering a long-term social change by ensuring education for young girls.
Kurigram witnesses significant decline in child marriage
One of the two categories of child marriage has declined significantly in Kurigram, one of the country's poorest districts, over the last five years. The other has also decreased, but not to the desired extent. In 2017, the rate of child marriage for under-15s was 17 percent, and for under-18s was 65 percent in the northern district. It means the number of girls under the age of 15 getting married was 17 percent, and the number of girls under 18 getting married was 65 percent. Now the rate has come down to 6 percent for under-15s, and 51 percent for under-18s, said Mohammad Rezaul Karim, Deputy Commissioner of Kurigram district on Saturday at Sheikh Russel Auditorium in Kurigram. The findings were disclosed at the district level exit workshop organized by the Building Better Future for Girls (BBFG). The Deputy Commissioner of Kurigram presided over the workshop. District action plan to prevent child and early forced marriage can be a powerful tool to make Bangladesh free of child marriage by 2041, he added. Kurigram can be a role model for other districts in bringing down child marriage rate but a long- term action plan and more coordinated efforts are required to achieve the goal, said discussants during the project's closing workshop. READ: Growing per capita income contributed to reduce child marriage: Planning Minister Deputy Director of the Local Government department, Zilufa Sultana, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Rajarhat Upazila Nura Tasnim, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Fulbari Upazila Sumon Das, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Kurigram Sadar Upazila Rasedul Hasan, Additional Superintendent of Police Sushant Chandra Roy, Director - Girls Rights Hub of Plan International Bangladesh Kashfia Firoz, and Nazrul Ghani, Head of Administration and General Service were present as special guests. The Deputy Commissioner said that everyone in Kurigram now knows that child marriage is a crime. But they have to be more conscious and monitor the situation from their own place. “We must say No to child marriage”. The BBFG project has been supporting the Kurigram district administration in implementing the district action plan to reduce the rate of child marriage under 15 years to zero, and to reduce the rate of child marriage under 18 years to one-third of what it was. Under the leadership of Kurigram district administration, child marriage prevention committee, local government, Kazi, Matchmaker, Imam and Priests are working together. As a result, the district’s rate of child marriage has been reduced, he added. Kashfia Feroz, director of Girls Rights Hub of Plan International Bangladesh said: "Despite the pandemic, the rate of child marriage in Kurigram under the age of 15 has come down to 6 percent from 17 percent. This is a great achievement for us. I urge everyone to hold on to the BBFG project’s success so that we can declare Kurigram a child marriage free district.” As per the government's declaration, and following the guidelines of the Governance Innovation Unit (GIU) at the Prime Minister’s Office, 3 upazilas, 73 union parishads and 3 municipalities of Kurigram district have already been primarily declared as "child marriage-free" through the BBFG project. The Building Better Future for Girls (BBFG) project, funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Bangladesh, has been implemented across the Kurigram district since 2017 with the support of Plan International Bangladesh and local partner RDRS Bangladesh. The project will end by March 31, 2022. READ: Kurigram sets an example in reducing child marriage: Speakers The BBFG project has taken various initiatives to stop child marriage including formation of youth forum in all unions of Kurigram, selection of champion fathers, strengthening and formation of child marriage prevention committee and developing action plan to stop child marriage at district, upazila and union and ward levels, and providing training to over 6000 kazis, imams, matchmakers and priests involved in the process to execute marriage.
Growing per capita income contributed to reduce child marriage: Planning Minister
Planning Minister MA Mannan on Tuesday said growing trends of per capita income will help to reduce child marriage in the country. He said child marriage incident is happening due to various reasons such as the father being unable to meet the wedding expenses of his older daughters as his income is low. The minister made the remarks while addressing the 20th session of the Child Parliament titled 'Progress of Digital Bangladesh and Child Protection', held in the city on Tuesday. READ: Now is good time to invest in Bangladesh: Planning Minister Children from 16 disadvantaged and marginalised areas in 15 districts participated in this session. The planning minister said child marriage has taken place in many countries of the world while many countries have reduced it. “Child marriage is still going on secretly in our cities and villages. We have to protest against it. I see many protests, when a child gets married, the child resists on his own. I salute them. The field administration is also working to prevent child marriage,” Mannan. The minister said, “There are many in our society whose average monthly income is Tk 5000, again, there are many whose average income is Tk 5 crore.” Reducing income discrimination and easy access to digital system for all would help eradication misconception regarding child marriage in the society, Mannan said. "We are working on 5G internet," he said. READ: Energy efficiency essential for industries: Planning Minister “But reality is that many people in the country still use 2G internet. We will move forward to development highway of the prime minister with everyone,” he added.
Kurigram sets an example in reducing child marriage: Speakers
Kurigram can be a role model for other districts in bringing down child marriage rate but more coordinated efforts are required from all level of stakeholders, said discussants at a round table discussion on Saturday. The round table titled “Child Marriage Free Kurigram, A Journey Towards A Dream” was organised at the conference room of Kurigram Deputy Commissioner in Kurigram. The round table was organised by international development organisation Plan International Bangladesh and its local partner RDRS Bangladesh under the project “Building Better Future for Girls (BBFG)” with the support of Sweden Embassy in Bangladesh. Also read: Child marriage was an epidemic within the pandemic in Bangladesh Addressing the discussion as the Chief Guest, the Deputy Commissioner Md. Rezaul Karim said Kurigram’s District Action Plan implementation is an example for other districts of the country to reduce the curse of child marriage. “To bring the child marriage rate to zero, we all are working together, and are committed to continue the effort in future. We have identified all the relevant stakeholders, engage them with the implementation process which is a big initiative. This made us able to reach to the community level. We are working to bring a positive change in the society through engaging different stakeholders, activating different committees, forming youth forums, strengthening cultural activities.” Also read: Child marriage rates soar in Cox's Bazar in the shadow of pandemic
Zonta Club of Greater Dhaka launches 16-day activism campaign on child marriage, gender-based violence
The Zonta Club of Greater Dhaka has chalked out plans to celebrate 16 Days of Activism campaign from November 25 to December 10 with a goal to globally develop advocacy actions with a focus on preventing child marriage and gender based violence against woman. During the 16 Days of Activism, the intention is to take local, national and international actions to influence the making and implementation of laws, as well as changing gender-based attitudes and behaviors to end violence against women, the club said in a press release. Tehmina Enayet, President Elect, an entrepreneur and connoisseur of art, is a strong proponent of women’s empowerment and wholeheartedly believes in the cause of Zonta, ‘Stop Child Marriage’ and ‘Say No to Violence Against Women and Girl Child.’ Zonta Club of Greater Dhaka’s President Dr Simeen M Akhtar, and the Advocacy Chairperson Tootli Rahman and the club members have organised seven events to commemorate this occasion. These programs are focused to increase the awareness in society and for the community to take a stand ensuring all health precautions. Read: Zonta Club awards 4 women for contributions to society during pandemic
Rights groups call for increased investment on girl’s education to prevent child marriage
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. Read: DC Eeti declares war on child marriage in Kurigram 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. Read: Child marriage was an epidemic within the pandemic in Bangladesh 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. Read: Child marriage rates soar in Cox's Bazar in the shadow of pandemic 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.
School closure impact: over 3,000 girls married off in Bagerhat
As the schools in Bangladesh reopened after long Covid-induced shutdown last month, many girls in this coastal district were missing from classrooms with a majority of them lost to early marriages. For the mostly poor families, hit hard by the pandemic, the 18-month shutdown has proved too long and unbearable to take care of their young girls. In Bagerhat, around 3,178 girls, mostly school goers, were married off between March 2020 till September 20221, according to district Education Officer Md Kamruzzaman.Nilanjana (not her real name) was in class eight in March 2020 when the surging pandemic closed her Basabati Rahmania Secondary school in Bagerhat, along with education shutdown across the country. Also read: Child marriage was an epidemic within the pandemic in Bangladesh