Protection of family honour, lack of awareness and poverty are some of the factors that contribute to child marriage
Although the rate of child marriage has decreased at the national level due to various government initiatives, the rate of child marriage in Bhola district is concerning, discussants at a recent webinar have said.
The national rate of child marriage among individuals under 18 is 51.4%, while the rate in Bhola is 60.3%.
The information was revealed during the presentation of a research report on the topic, "Causes, Impacts and Ways to Prevent Child Marriage", organized by COAST Foundation on Saturday, said a press release.
The study also reported that the marriage rate for children under the age of 15 in Bhola was 19%, compared to the national rate of 15.5%.
As many as 41.7% of the respondents of the survey identified insecurity among parents as one of the major reasons behind child marriage.
Other factors include protection of family honour (41%), lack of awareness (44.9%) and poverty (50.9%).
Speaking as the chief guest, Meher Afroz Chumki, chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, said despite all government initiatives, there was still an attitude problem in society when it came to girls.
“To solve this problem, girls need to be made financially self-sufficient, they need to be educated. Local elected representatives, including UP members and chairmen, should play an active role in preventing child marriage,” she added.
Shireen Huq, member of Naripokkho, said cultural change and social movements along with necessary punishment were needed to prevent early marriage.
In her comments, Manusher Jonno Foundation Executive Director Shaheen Anam said: “In order to prevent child marriage and its negative impacts, it is important to bring back the girls who have dropped out of school.
“We need to ensure reproductive health services for those who are already married and hold people concerned, including the upazila-based child marriage prevention committees, accountable.”
Natalie McCauley, head of Unicef Bangladesh’s Child Protection sector, laid emphasis on the role of social volunteers. She said they needed to be proactive in preventing child marriage.
The webinar was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of COAST Foundation.