Digitizing marriage registration, age verification can go a long way towards preventing child marriages, speakers say
International development organization Brac has called on the government to explore the use of communications technology to combat social injustices such as child marriage and child labour.
Brac made the recommendation during an advocacy dialogue titled “Role of Technology in Combatting Child Marriage and Child Labour” at the Brac Centre on Monday. The event was organized to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child.
State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak attended the dialogue as the chief guest, while Brac Executive Director Asif Saleh was also present. Nobonita Chowdhury, director of GJD at Brac, moderated the whole session.
Palak said the differences in the attitude of society towards boys and girls needs to be changed before exploring the use of technology to tackle child marriage.
“Technology, projects, or plans will not be fruitful if the psychology and mindset [of parents] is not changed,” he said, adding that the government has designed a portal called Bondhon.gov.bd with the aim of preventing child marriage.
Marriages must be registered through the portal, and they cannot be registered without age verification.
“We will launch the portal soon,” Palak said.
He also suggested the use of artificial intelligence and collaboration between the government and Brac to reduce the child marriage rate.
Asif Saleh discussed the importance of protecting girl children from child marriage and child labour using technology.
“We have to work relentlessly to eliminate the pervasive societal attitude to discriminate between girl and boy children. We have laws, but it is urgent that implementing agencies should be equipped with all the necessary technological solutions for effective execution of laws. We need to find out the underlying causes of child marriages and work towards changing the social psyche and that of the parents as well,” he said.
Nobonita Chowdhury stressed the need to digitize the entire civil registration system, including birth, marriage, and employment registration.
Mohammad Abdul Wahed, president (Dhaka District) of Bangladesh Muslim Niqah (Marriage) Registrar Samity, and Taqbir Huda, advocacy lead of GJD at Brac, echoed that digitizing the age verification and marriage registration process can help registrars better tackle child marriages.