Dhaka, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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Lawmen play role to reduce early marriage in northern districts

DHAKA, May 4, 2018 (BSS) - Police foiled the scheduled marriage of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in Jangalia village under Bahubal upazila of Habiganj district on April 21.

The schoolgirl, Tania, is daughter of Faruq Mian of Jangalia. She reads in class ten.

Bahubal Model Thana Officer-in-Charge (OC) M Moniruzzaman said, being informed about the child marriage, police rushed to the residence of Tania and stopped the marriage.

Another girl Rabeya Khatun lives at Dangapara village in Joldhaka upazila of Nilphamari district. She is the third among three sisters and two brothers. Her father is a farmer by profession.

Rabeya's father, who was experiencing hardship in running his seven-member family, was in worry regarding the marriage of his daughters.

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

Accepting the proposal, he married off Rabeya thinking that it would not be right to miss a good bridegroom.

After her marriage, Rabeya became mother of a boy. But she divorced her husband as he used to torture her regularly for dowry.

Now Rabya 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.

According to a study of Washington-based think tank International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), child marriage in Bangladesh has declined to 43 percent from 62.3 percent in last couple of years.

The government has already taken massive initiatives to eliminate the incidence of early marriage from the division.

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

In 2017, 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 marriage registrars would have to be confirmed about the ages of the bride and the bridegroom before marriage by making a phone call to *16100#.

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

If the girls of the upazila stand against child marriage, one day the upzila will be free from the social menace, he added.

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

Plan International Divisional Manager Abdul Quddus said they are working with the government as a partner to stop child marriage.

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

The Jatiya Sangsad passed the Child Marriage Restraint Bill-2017 imposing a ban on child marriage and kept a provision of punishment for violation of the embargo.

According to the law, the minimum age for marriage of females is 18 and for males is 21, other than the 'exceptions in special circumstances'.