A proper childhood should be a human right
A sobering new report published by Save the Children on the 100th anniversary of the organization’s founding shows that 84% of adolescent brides in Bangladesh become mothers before reaching adulthood.
The findings of the Global Childhood Report, grim as they are, are not surprising -- the twin issues of child marriage and adolescent pregnancy are both serious challenges that Bangladesh faces in its move towards middle-income status.
The two are, of course, inextricably related, so to stop adolescent pregnancy, we have to stop child marriage first; according to Save the Children, 32.4% of adolescent girls in the country are married, which means nearly a third of girls are being forced into a situation where they become pregnant before reaching the mental and physical maturity needed to deal with it.
When married off early, girls are often deprived of their education, and it is one of the primary reasons why girls still lag behind boys in secondary and tertiary education in Bangladesh, even when the evidence shows that given a chance, girls outperform boys academically in many cases.
In the long run, this prevents more women from joining the workforce, thus hindering our economic growth.
We wish to become a prosperous, fully developed nation, but to achieve that, we must pay attention to the details, which means protecting all aspects of child rights, ending child marriage and forced marriage, and discouraging early pregnancies which harm a girl’s psychosocial development.
A proper childhood should be a human right, and no one, girl or boy, should be forced to grow up before their time due to retrograde ideas about marriage that still exist in our society.