Vaccine for this social disease is essential
The curse of child marriage that had already been in our society for decades has turned from bad to worse during the ongoing pandemic.
A district education office data on the situation of child marriage in Rajshahi, recently published in this daily cannot but trigger our extreme concern.
The data found some 6,512 girl students ranging from class six to ten in the district have been victims of the social curse in the last 18 months of pandemic induced closure. Such a huge number in a single district alone implies how the pandemic had empowered a social disease to grow dangerously.
Most worryingly, along with child marriage spree, violence against women has shot up here in various forms.
Reportedly, marriage of the above mentioned number of underage girls took place in Bagha, Bagmara, Charghat, Durgapur, Godagari, Mohanpur, Poba, Sadar and Tanore Upazila. And this trend of marrying off growing girls, seemingly higher among dwellers in different chars of Padma is driven by the thought of weighing down family burden.
However, the situation of Rajshahi gives us an overall idea on the horrific reality of child marriage in the country calling into question our sincerity and goodwill in addressing the age-old social predicament.
Question can come forward why such evil is going rampant even after people are well aware of its adverse impacts.
A deep insight into the situation of Rajshahi suggests that social attitude to a female child, in addition to poverty has worked as the driving force behind the spread of the horror in the district.
Undoubtedly, under pandemic time economic reality with massive unemployment, closing of income sources for many has exacerbated to a new degree. But, has the prejudice that female child is of lesser value compared to a male child in this society worked lesser in this connection? Not at all.
Sadly, the time children are supposed to pass a joyful environment, for their proper mental growth, while playing the role of seedbed of their future, shows them the reality driven cruel face of a society where dreams, possibilities and unexplored potentials of thousands of girl children get replaced by premature pregnancy related complications, physical and social abuse to even mental trauma.
We think, as such early marriage of girls in our country is directly linked to a flawed prevailing socio-economic infrastructure. Mere legal issues in this regard will be of little effect in the broader spectrum. We must have an economy that is organized all the way to the marginal level. Otherwise, mere awareness campaign will only sound empty.
And if we are to go in tandem with global women empowerment, we must stop child marriage.