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Surge in child marriage rings alarm

Published : 31 Dec 2021 10:26 PM | Updated : 01 Jan 2022 04:01 PM

The eventful year of 2021, passed through ups and downs, witnessed an alarming surge in violence against women and child marriage.  

Although the lockdown of 2020 was blamed for the rise in domestic violence, the year 2021 was no better.  

The year ended with the news of the alleged gang-rape of a mother in Cox's Bazar while her husband and eight-year-old child were tied up. 

The widely discussed death of a DU (Dhaka University) student, Elma Chowdhury Meghla, who was allegedly tortured and killed by her in-laws also drew attention to the increasing gender-based violence.  

According to the data compiled by Ain O Salish Kendra domestic violence increased by 10 percent in the 11 months from January to November in 2021 compared to last year. 

The number of deaths including domestic violence and suicide has increased by 7 percent. There have been 197 incidents of violence against women for dowry. Of these, 40 have been killed.

According to the annual report of the ministries and departments, 12,660 cases of violence against women were filed in FY 2019-20, which increased to 14,567 in FY 2020-21. Meanwhile, 5,842 rape cases were filed in FY 2019-20 and 7,222 rape cases in FY 2020-21.   

Child marriages have also increased to an alarming extent throughout the year. Discussions regarding this distressing surge began in September. 

A large number of child marriages took place in the country amid the pandemic because of the economic hardships faced by the low-income people coupled with the closure of schools.

Based on the news published in 13 national dailies, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad recently said that child marriage has increased by 238 percent in 2021 as compared to the previous year.

According to a news published in the media in September 2021, eight out of nine girls of class nine of a Kurigram school were married off amid the pandemic.

Only one girl of the class showed up at the school after the reopening of the institution on September 12.

These media reports are considered to be only a fraction of the actual number of such violence that has taken place throughout the year.  

An analysis titled, “Covid-19: A threat to progress against child marriage,” released by UNICEF in March 2021 predicted that ten million additional child marriages may occur before the end of the decade, threatening years of progress in reducing the practice across the world.

In a word, violence against women remained a daily reality throughout the year 2021.

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