All of this amounts to a grave violations of human rights
Time and time again, alarm has been raised against the rapid increase of violence against women and children over the course of the pandemic. One of the most deplorable forms of this shadow pandemic has been the resurgence of high child marriage numbers in Bangladesh.
According to Manusher Jonno Foundation, the country currently has a 51% child marriage rate, with nearly 14,000 child marriages being held between April and October 2020. Among the primary reasons cited for this are increased poverty and the extended closure of schools, both of which have been due to the pandemic. Added to various societal norms and prejudices about women and girls, these trends now threaten to undo much of the work that has been done in the past to curb child marriage.
The reasoning behind marrying off girl children early, such as seeing them as burdens to the family or stigma surrounding sexuality and chastity, are morally deplorable, and not to mention, detrimental to social development. And not only does it set us back significantly, it also bodes ill for the economy.
In most cases, marrying young girls off effectively takes them out of the school system and labour force, which often strips them of their agency and ability to become financially independent and break free of cycles of abuse and violence. Child marriage does not just negatively impact our society -- depriving them of educational and work opportunities means that their innovations and contributions to science, business, and technology all take a hit.
All of this amounts to a grave violations of human rights, and it is high time we do everything in our power to curb this. This involves implementing immediate and extensive measures to generate awareness about the drawbacks of child marriage, and reinstating state measures that have been stalled due to Covid-19.
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