The curse of early marriage torments everyone’s conscience

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DHAKA, March29, 2019 (BSS) – Though early marriage is a serious violation
of child right, Aporna Sen, a daughter of a farmer at Jorarbari village in
Domar upazila under Nilphamari district, fell prey to this social menace.
They are three sisters and two brothers.

Faced with severe financial hardship Aporna’s father, who had to run a
family of seven members, was looking for an opportunity to get her daughter
married off early. One day he got a proposal of his daughter’s marriage
through a close relative while Aporna was a student of class IX.

Without thinking that early marriage will simply deny her daughter the
basic right to good health, nutrition and education, Aporna was married off.
After her marriage, Aporna became mother of a baby girl, afterwards she had
to divorce her husband as he used to torture Aporna for dowry every now and
then. At present she is working with a local NGO for her survival and rearing
of her child.

Like Aporna, many girls under 18 years have to suffer a negative impact of
early marriage on their physical growth, health, mental and emotional
development and education opportunities. They are being cut off from educational opportunities and chances of personal growth.

Early marriage reinforces a cycle of poverty and perpetuates gender discrimination,
illiteracy and malnutrition as well as high infant and maternal mortality
rates. Poverty and weak enforcement of laws are significant factors that
increase the risk of girl being married off while still a child.

Social customs, tradition, family and social pressures and economic
condition perpetuate the practice of early marriage. Unfortunate part of the
story is that girl child is generally considered to be a burden to be married
off as early as possible. Parents see early marriage as a way to secure the
girl’s future socially and economically.

According to a survey, conducted by Population Science Department of Dhaka
University in 2016, the rate of early marriage is high in Rangpur division.
Kurigram district has topped table in Rangpur division with 91 percent rate
of early marriage. Nilphamari district with 90 percent rate of early marriage
followed Kurigram.

The government has already taken massive initiatives to eliminate the early
marriage in the division as well as the country. Mobile technology is being
used in the Rangpur division to stop early marriage. Last year the government
started a pilot project in Kurigram in this regard. Later, more four
districts have been included under the pilot project with the help of non-
government organizations (NGOs).

Upzila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Joldhaka upazila of the district Rashedul
Haque Pradhan said the upazila has been declared as ‘early marriage free
upazila’ in 2015.

‘I stopped more than 100 early marriages during the last eight months,’ he
said. He said the people of the region have now become more conscious about
early marriage as the mobile technology has been introduced.

Rangpur Kazi Samity General Secretary said, ‘We are now very happy as the
technology is very much useful. After using the apps, we confirm the real
age.’

According to a statistic of the project, a total of 53,500 people of
Rangpur, Kurigram and Nilphamari districts use the app to confirm real age of
girls.

Plan International Divisional Manager Abdul Quddus said they are working
with the government as a partner.

The common people are now more conscious against the early marriage, he
added. Around nine thousand registrars, including kazis, imams and priests of
four districts in Rangpur division, got training about the mobile app under
the project, Quddus said.

Former state minister for women and children affairs Meher Afroz Chumki
said the government has already made a list of over 85,000 registrars who
registered the marriage certificates across the country.

They would be provided with training, she said, adding the day of early
marriage will be over soon.

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