Fight against child marriage needs to be intensified
THAT 64 per cent women get married before they reach 18, so indicates a survey conducted by Plan International Bangladesh, a non-governmental organisation, in partnership with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh between July and August in 2012, the findings of which were made public in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday. As quoted in New Age on Wednesday, the survey conducted among women aged between 20 and 24 found that the prevalence of early marriage in uneducated women is higher (86 per cent) than those who completed secondary and higher secondary education. Moreover, early marriage is prevalent more in rural areas than in urban areas, the poor and marginalised sections are the worst affected.
People fighting poverty are unable to afford the cost needed to educate their children on the one hand and ensure safety for their daughters, especially at a time when sexual harassment on women and girls has assumed alarming proportions. Such an unfortunate situation often leads many poor parents to marry their daughters off at a tender age. Also, lack of awareness about the risks that early marriage exposes a girl to plays a significant role in this regard. Needless to say, early marriage deprives a girl of her human rights on the one hand and causes early pregnancy on the other, oftentimes putting her life in danger even. That maternal mortality rate is still high in the country, while child mortality rate has seen a sharp decline in recent times, is, to a large extent, attributable to early marriage. One may also recall that there is a law restricting marriage of girls under 18 and that of boys under 21 in the country which is still being enforced in a lax manner.
It is indeed high time that the government rose to the occasion. A massive awareness campaign against early marriage needs to be launched without any delay which should be complemented with stringent enforcement of the relevant law. At the same time, adequate steps to effectively address poverty need to be taken to perpetuate the achievement from the steps mentioned earlier.
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