Since the beginning of the pandemic, 149 child marriages have been prevented, says a Women Affairs officer
In 2019, a non-government organization arranged a program at a secondary school in Satkhira, where students were given cards that would have them brought under a database.
Many such initiatives taken by various non-governmental organizations and the administration brought down the child marriage rate in Satkhira by almost half. However, during the coronavirus pandemic, that picture has changed.
More than 50 child marriages took place in the last one and a half years, all of them involving students of Alipur Adorsho Maddhomik Balika Biddyaloy.
According to Alipur Adorsho Maddhomik Balika Biddyaloy, of the 50 students who were victims of child marriage, 14 were in class 10, seven were in class 9 and 11 in class 8. Also, 18 were SSC candidates. These schoolgirls are between the ages of 14 and 18 years.
Md Abdul Latif, the headmaster of the school, said that 32 students of the school got married in 2020. Of the 68 SSC candidates, 21 did not submit their registration forms. When the school authorities went to inspect what happened, the matter of child marriages came out.
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AKM Shafiul Azam, deputy director of the Satkhira district Women Affairs office, said 22 child marriages had been prevented in August alone. Of these, 15 are in Tala and seven in sadar upazila. From the beginning of the pandemic till last month, 149 child marriages were prevented.
He said it would be easy to get comprehensive information on the subject after the reopening of schools and colleges.
Child marriage prevention committee member and local Kazi (one who officiates at a marriage) Md Rezaul Karim said that child marriage was not registered as it was not legal. Duplicate registration forms are illegally sold in various shops. Some Kazis perform wedding ceremonies by using such false forms.
Alipore Union Parishad Secretary Kanchan Kumar Dey said the parishad did not know how such a large number of students from one school had got married. The union parishad had no information in this regard.
All those who have been married in the last one year are above 18 years of age. However, if child marriages took place it was without the knowledge of the union parishad.
Satkhira Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Humayun Kabir said executive magistrates were active in preventing child marriages. As soon as they get any news of child marriage, they try to prevent it.