Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Nasima Begum has said that child marriage increased in the country as the laws were not applied properly during the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
“We have passed through a critical period due to the pandemic and all of us were busy preventing coronavirus. However, along with all the measures taken to prevent corona virus, we should have been careful to prevent child marriage as well.”
She was speaking as the chief guest at a shadow parliament session titled “Coronavirus is the main reason behind the recent increase in child marriage” held at the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (FDC) in Tejgaon on Saturday.
The session was organised at the joint initiative of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum and Debate for Democracy in collaboration with World Vision Bangladesh.
Putting emphasis on women’s employment she said that women are capable of doing everything that men can.
“Women should make themselves self-employed taking advantage of the opportunities available including online platforms. Child marriage can be prevented through everybody’s active participation and coordinated efforts,” she said.
She said that examples should be set by bringing the parents and marriage registrars involved in preventing child marriages under the law. She further said that there is no loophole in the section 19 of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2017 which could play a role in the increase of child marriage.
Nasima Akter Joly, secretary of National Girl Child Advocacy Forum was present as the special guest during the event.
“The critical period of the pandemic is definitely responsible for the increase in child marriage but the lack of awareness among the parents and lack of enforcement of the law should also be blamed for this increase,”she said.
The function was presided over by Debate for Democracy Chairman Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiron.
In his address Mr Kiron said that the long-term closure of educational institutions in the country due to coronavirus had created a kind of uncertainty in rural families. Moreover, child marriage has increased due to various reasons including poverty, harassment of miscreants and unawareness.
“At present the rate of child marriage in Bangladesh is 59 percent. It is feared that the progress made in eradicating child marriage, could be reversed again due to various reasons amid the pandemic,” he said.
Chandan Z Gomes, senior director of Operations and Program Quality (SDO), World Vision Bangladesh also spoke at the event.
Debaters from YWCA Girls High School as the government team and Child and Youth Forum of World Vision Bangladesh participated in the competition as the opposition party.
Trophies and certificates were awarded to the participating teams at the end of the competition.