Friday, June 21, 2024

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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

A stain on our national conscience

In most cases, instances of child marriage are instigated by the parents themselves

Update : 07 Oct 2023, 01:33 PM

It is a depressing reality that, despite years of effort from both the government and advocacy groups, child marriage is still prevalent in Bangladesh. In fact, according to a study conducted by Brac, over 60% of Bangladeshi families have engaged in this heinous practice in the last five years alone, with girls either marrying or entering families as daughters-in-law before the age of 18.

The statistics are truly shocking and saddening, as the report further states that around 6.9% of the girls who were surveyed were under 15 years of age when they married.

In most cases, instances of child marriage are instigated by the parents themselves, primarily because guardians are unaware of the physical and emotional horrors of child marriage -- almost all parents do this under the misguided notion that their daughters are at-risk until they are married. This is a mindset that we, especially rural Bangladeshis, will need to get out of. But while advocacy remains the de facto way that the message can be disseminated, given the statistics, punitive measures for those who marry off and marry young girls will need to be enforced more judiciously.

While misplaced social fears and retrograde attitudes towards having girl children contribute greatly to child marriage still being practiced, the underlying problem behind this abhorrent phenomenon has always been poverty. Far too many parents see their children as investments, and given that women are still denied social mobility, which leads to them not being employed, child marriage is the result of a dangerous looping issue that sustains itself in perpetuity.

From the physical and reproductive health of female victims, to the mental torture that such a practice afflicts on them, and even the social and economic impacts of child marriage, the adverse effects of keeping this practice alive cannot be denied.

We must all act now.

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