Government Policy

Fathers have role to prevent early marriage

DHAKA- Ataur Rahman, an inhabitant of a remote village in Nageshwari upazila of Kurigram district, is a farmer by profession. He has four children -- two sons and two daughters.

Ataur, who was experiencing hardship in running his six-member family, was in tension with the marriage of his two daughters.

At one stage, he got a proposal through a close relative for the marriage of his elder daughter Rumpa (not real name) who was a student of class VIII at that time.

Accepting the proposal, Ataur gave marriage to Rumpa in consideration of getting a good bridegroom.

At that time, Ataur's wife became a barrier to not giving marriage to his daughter at such an early age. And she took help from local NGO workers in this regard. But at last her daughter got married and died after giving birth to a girl child within one year of her marriage.

Ataur's granddaughter is now living with them, while their daughter's husband got married again.

Ataur is now regretting that such incident would have not happened, had her daughter not been given marriage at an early age.

He said he is responsible for the death of Rumpa and he will have to spend his rest of the life with this repentance.

In another incident, Priyanka (not real name), a resident of Match Colony area in Shyampur of Dhaka city fled with her boyfriend and got married. Priyanka was a student of class nine at that time.

Later, the family of her husband accepted their marriage. But, few months later, Priyanka's husband and his family started torture on her for dowry. Later, she divorced her husband and returned home with the help of parents.

Priyanka said, "I could not understand at that time ... no more girl doesn't commit such a mistake that I did."

She said her husband and his family are still threatening her.

There are many incidents like Rumpa and Priyanka that happen in the country every day.

It's clear from the two incidents that the parents are the safer place for their children. Only the parents can build a healthy future for their children and they will have to take a decision against early marriage.

As the fathers represent in the man-dominated society, they will have to come forward first against the early marriage. This awareness will be spread through fathers and thus would help build a social movement.

Early marriage is not a new problem of our society. This issue is being discussed for many years. Many national and international development partners and organizations have been working alongside the government for a long time to prevent it.

But voices were raised strongly after a girls summit against "Female Genital Mutilation and Child Early Forced Marriage" held in London in 2014.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the international summit and also gave assurance to reduce the rate of early marriage at her own country.

Later, the present government took initiatives to make time-befitting the eight-decade-old "The Early Marriage Prevention Act" and passed the "Early Marriage Prevention Law-2106" in parliament keeping a special provision.

This provision says that son and daughter could be given marriage for their greater interest and for which enacting rules is under process.

But some people have an objection about the special provision, arguing that it will encourage the early marriage.

A survey of Plan International Bangladesh and iccdr,b, conducted on 10,000 women in 2013, showed that the rate of early marriage was 64 percent in the country at that time.

According to UNICEF, two-thirds of girls aged between 10 and 19 become victims of early marriage.

According to a report of Save the Children released in 2010, 69 percent women of the country get married before completion of 18 years. In the case of males, the rate is under three percent.

As per the information of Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey, the average age of women in the country is 15 years and three months.

According to a research, carried out recently by Population Science Department of Dhaka University, showed that poverty is the main reason for 81 percent early marriage. Of them, 75 percent girl children could not complete their secondary education level.

The Plan International Bangladesh and iccdr,b, survey showed that 62 percent women were forced to get married before becoming adult due to their families.

According to the survey, fathers are responsible for 75 percent early marriage, while the mothers are responsible for only eight percent. In this case, the role of close relatives is only two percent.

It's clear from the statistics that the fathers of girl child are pushing their beloved children towards a serious consequence through early marriage.

So if the fathers are not made aware, the early marriage couldn't be stopped only through law. And this awareness will have to start from the house, and mothers of girl children will have to come forward to make their husbands aware.

May be that mothers became victims of early marriage and became mothers at early age. They would realize that what type of risk and pain they crossed. They don't certainly want to fall their children into risk.

The parents will have to know about modern information of science. According to UNICEF, the delivery-related death risk of girls aged between 15 and 19 is five times higher. The death risk of mother and child is double. So why the parents will put their own children at risk?

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)