Islamic Nikah registrars (Qazi’s) in the upazila used fake registration forms to hide the girls' ages as the marriages will be registered again once they reach the age of 18
Child marriage has shot up alarmingly in Faridpur district’s Bowalmari Upazila as a substantial number of girls dropping out of the educational institutions during the long corona pandemic that stretched over one year and a half.
As schools remained shut down over the last year and a half, the trend of child marriage has shot up.
About 400 girls have had child marriages during the coronavirus pandemic in Bowalmari, Faridpur.
According to the upazila education office, a total of 369 students from class 6 to 10 studying in 28 schools have become victims of child marriage.
Child marriages have taken place in almost all the educational institutions of the upazila, where 62 students of Rupapat Baman Chandra High School, 34 students of the Government Girls High School, and 28 students of Gohailbari High School have been married off.
No marriage registrar (qazi) can legally register a child marriage. So, the Qazis in different unions of the upazila registered the marriage by pursuing the girls to sign a fake registration form. When the girls reach the age of 18, the marriage will be again registered properly.
The headmaster of a secondary school in the upazila, who did not want to be named, said the families were contacted after the news reached the school. The parents simply said: “ I got her married because I found a good son-in-law.”
A guardian in the Rupapat union of Banamalipur village said, “Times are not good. Everything is so uncertain. Schools are also closed. So I found a good prospect and I married my daughter to him.”
She said her son-in-law has even said: “There is no problem. She will be allowed to read and write even after we are married.”
The headmaster of Rupapat Bamanchandra High School, Shahjahan Mollah, said most of the parents of students are farmers and come from hard-working backgrounds.
The marriages happened because the school has been closed for a long time.
The secondary Education Officer of the upazila, Abdur Rahim also said that the propensity of child marriages has increased due to the prolonged closure of educational institutions. An average of 25-30% students in each school of the upazila have since dropped out and simply stopped coming.
Upazila Executive Officer Rezaul Karim said: “No one in the upazila has complained or spoken up about the rise in child marriage.
The number of students who were married off early in their childhood is also not known for certain.”