Child marriage must be stopped
Child marriage is a formal or informal marriage of a minor which is illegal. Legally, the age of marriage for girls is 18 years and for boys it is 21 years. Child marriage affects both girls and boys. In most child marriages, only one of the two is a minor. Especially girls are the victims and victims of child marriage. The main causes of child marriage are poverty, dowry, social norms, laws supporting child marriage, religious and social pressures, regional customs, fear of being unmarried, illiteracy and the inability of girls to earn a living.
According to a study conducted by BRAC, child marriages have increased by 25 per cent compared to other times due to the closure of educational institutions during the Corona period, which is the highest in the last 25 years. According to a UNICEF report, apart from Corona, Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.
The practice of child marriage has started long ago. These include poverty, insecurity, political and economic factors. Child marriage is still prevalent in developing countries, such as parts of Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, West Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. India, Bangladesh and some countries in Central Africa have the highest child marriage rates, at over 60 percent. According to the 2003-2009 survey, in Niger, Chad, Bangladesh, Mali and Ethiopia, the rate of child marriage for children under 15 is over 20 percent.
Pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death among women aged 15-19 in the developing world. Niger has the highest number of child marriages in the world, with 3 out of every 4 girls having a child marriage.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the factors responsible for child marriage include poverty and economic instability, gender inequality, land-property contracts, protection of family honour, customary practices, and insecurity.
According to UNFPA, between 2000 and 2011, about one-third (about 34 percent) of women aged 20-24 in developing countries were married before their 18th birthday. In 2010, the estimated number was about 67 million. About 12 percent of women are married before the age of 15. The trend of child marriage varies from place to place. The prevalence of child marriage among rural girls is almost double that of urban girls. According to UNICEF, the five countries with the highest child marriage rates in the world are Niger (75 percent), Chad (72 percent), Mali (71 percent), Bangladesh (64 percent) and Guinea (63 percent). And each of these 5 countries is a major Islamic state.
Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. 2 out of every 3 marriages are child marriages. According to 2005 statistics, 49 percent of women aged 25-29 at the time were married at the age of 15. According to a 2009 report on the status of children worldwide, 63 percent of women aged 20-24 are married before the age of 18. According to a 2008 survey, an extra year of unmarried girls in rural areas adds an average of 0.22 years to an education. The later the girls get married, the more they get access to preventive health care. Girls who get married at a young age are usually indifferent to family planning. Among them, maternal mortality rate is higher and their position in the husband's family is also lower.
Such marriages can only take place in special circumstances if the conditions are met with the permission of the court to protect the best interests of the minors. There will be a verification committee to ensure that the best interests of minors are protected. The head of the committee is the Upazila Nirbahi Officer. Representatives of the local administration, including two teenagers, will be members of the committee. This committee will look very seriously to see if there was any other way without marriage. Even then the report of the committee will go to court. The court can accept or reject the report. If you want to have a child marriage, you have to go through so many steps. So no one can give a child marriage just by thinking.
It is possible to save girls from the curse of child marriage. The education system for girls needs to be such that there is job security at the end of education. Child marriage is a big reason for dropping out of school. In this case, effective initiatives must be taken. It is important to ensure that girls are not discriminated against in various fields including education and employment. The government and NGOs should focus on working together.
Necessary steps have to be taken so that poor people can easily get legal remedy. The government will have to bear all the expenses of girls' education so that education is not stopped due to lack of funds. Counseling should be done in every school-college of the country. It is not possible for the government alone to prevent child marriage, so all the citizens should unite and prevent child marriage. At the same time, the marriage registrars should be warned and informed that child marriage should not be registered. Child marriage has also increased for some marriage registrars. They also need to be resisted.
The writer is a student, Joypurhat Government College