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Mobile app stopping early marriage

DHAKA, May 30, 2017 (BSS) - Sultana Begum used to live at Dangapara village in Joldhaka upazila of Nilphamari district. She is the second among her three sisters and two brothers. Her father is a farmer by profession.

Sultana's father, who was experiencing hardship in running his seven-member family, was in tension with the marriage of his daughters.

At one stage, he got a proposal through a close relative for the marriage of his daughter Sultana who was a student of class VIII at that time.

Accepting the proposal, he married off Sultana in consideration of getting a good bridegroom.

After her marriage, Sultana became mother of a baby boy. But she divorced her husband as he tortured Sultana regularly for dowry.

Now Sultana is working with a local NGO for survival.

According to a survey, conducted by Population Science Department of Dhaka University in 2016, the rate of early marriage is the highest in Rangpur division.

Kurigram district topped in Rangpur division, where the rate of early marriage is 91 percent, followed by Nilphamari with 90 percent.

The government has already taken massive initiatives to eliminate the early marriage from the division as well as the country like `Monga'.

Mobile technology has been introduced in Rangpur division to stop early marriage.

In the beginning of the year, the government launched a pilot project in Kurigram which was inaugurated by State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Minister Meher Afroj Chumki.

Later, four more districts have been brought under the pilot project with the help of non-government organizations (NGOs).

The registrars who make marriage registrations would have to be confirmed about the ages of the bride and bridegroom before marriage through making a call.

Following is the process for using the app: You will have to first dial at *16100# number and you can see an option of age verification where you would have to put the number of birth registration or educational certificate or national identity card number.

After putting the number you can know the real age of them. If anybody wants to deceive in this regard, he or she would be caught red-handed.

Joldhaka Upzila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Rashedul Haque Pradhan said the upazila has been declared as 'early marriage free upazila' in 2015. But some early marriages are taking place secretly, he said.

"I stopped over 100 early marriages after coming here during the last eight months," he said.

The UNO said the people of the region are now very much conscious about early marriage due to the introduction of mobile apps.

Rangpur Kazi Samity General Secretary said, "We are very happy as the technology is very much useful. After using the apps, we are confirmed the real age of the bride and bridegroom."

According to a statistic of the project, a total of 53,500 people of Rangpur, Kurigram and Nilphamari district use the app to know the real age in last two months (March 15 to May 15).

Of them, 25,176 people are from Rangpur and 18,873 from Nilphamari.

Plan International Divisional Manager Abdul Quddus said they are working with the government as a partner. The common people are now more aware of the early marriage, he added.

Around 9,000 registrars including kazis, imams and priests of four districts in Rangpur division were imparted training about the mobile app under the project, Quddus said.

State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Minister Meher Afroz Chumki said the government has already prepared a list of over 85,000 registrars who make registration of marriages across the country.

The registrars would be provided necessary training on using the mobile app introduced for preventing early marriages, she said.