An SMS system to combat child marriage, rolled out in Kurigram as a pilot project by the Bangladesh government in June 2014, has shown positive prospects in this battle through the statistics it has collected.
Under the SMS system, marriage registrars must verify the age of applicants prior to registering the marriage. In addition, the number "109" may be dialed by anyone who wishes to report a child marriage to the authorities concerned.
Statistics from the government run project show that 53,500 people have had their age verified through the system between March 15 and May 15, 2017, with 207 marriages registered online in Kurigram, Rangpur and Nilphamari, according to a press release from Plan International Bangladesh.
The SMS system had been rolled out in June 2014 with the aim of preventing underage marriage, and is set to play an integral role in keeping Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's pledge to end child marriage by 2041.
The system developers are also considering establishing an information hub by storing the data on birth registration and details of 85,000 marriage registrars and Imams country wide in a server.
As per statistics from Plan International, Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of underage marriage in the world, with 52% of girls married before they turn 18.
The Bangladesh government enacted the controversial Child Marriage Act 2017 earlier this year in an effort to stem the tide of underage marriages.