Child marriage refers the term, getting marriage of a girl or boy before the age of 18. Though child marriage is considered as illegal since 1929, in Bangladesh, but our country has the fourth-highest rate of child marriage in the world. In this pandemic situation, the rate of child marriage has been increased.
As Bangladesh is a developing country, therefore, there are many reasons behind child marriages. Poverty is one of them. But basically, it has become a tradition surrounding most girl children in the poorer section of society. But it's a matter of sadness that the rate is increasing during the pandemic. Because now all educational institutions are closed. There is much uncertainty among the family about the future of their children. They think marriage is the only solution here to secure their life. According to a servey of BRAC, in this pandemic, the reason of 85 per cent child marriage is the anxiety of future. 71 per cent child marriage has happened because of the closing of their educational institutions. Besides, people coming from foreign countries are also the reason for 62 per cent child marriages.There are many good laws enacted in Bangladesh but the matter is that there is no proper implementation of these laws. Bangladesh is trying to play a proper role to prevent child marriages and there are many laws against the child marriage. Even our government hired many workers to work at the field level to prevent child marriages. According to law, “If any person abets child marriage, he shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh taka or both." Beside this, to ask for help against child marriage many girls are being benefited by calling 999. UNICEF is running many golbal programmes to end child marriage. Their aim is to avert 500,000 child marriages in the region by 2021.
But according to a survey, during the Corona pandemic, at least 13,886 child marriages took place in 21 districts. Despite the existence of law, child marriage is not being totally prevented. Because in this pandemic, to avoid social gathering parents are arranging their program in a very limited way to make it more difficult to identify. Parents think that their children will get a secure life by marriage. They will get relief from sexual harassment. But the guardian doesn’t know that the early marriage may damage their children's physical and mental health. They may get relief from social harrasment but after getting married they may face more difficulties, even some of them may lose their life because of early pregnancy or dowry torture.
So, this is the time to create more awareness among the families, because only enactment of law cannot solve this problem. Despite all laws child marriage has increased compared to before. Because the family are not aware of the evils of this. So the actual solution is proper enforcement of law, if we want this evil to end. Because in our country, this is still not always possible for a girl to make a decision in own marriage or get legal help to prevent marriage. Family takes all the decisions in their life and there is no use of law against family.
If parents are made aware of the bad effect of child marriage, it will be more easy to prevent them along with the proper enforcement of law. Let’s think about our children as our assets, not burdens. They are the future leaders of the country. There may be many gaps in the law, but if the guardians are aware, we will be able to make a strong resistance against child marriage and there will be less gaps in achievement. So its necessary to build aware alongside enacting laws to prevent child marriage.
Shahida Aroby, student of North South University, Dhaka