PM HASINA PROMISES END OF CHILD MARRIAGE BY 2041
Lovlu Ansar, New York, bdnews24.com
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised to put an end to child marriage in Bangladesh by 2041, pointing to major strides in female education.
“Already we have more girls than boys in schools,” Hasina said during a lecture at the Columbia University late on Friday.
She recalled the many steps taken by her government for the upliftment of women.
“I promise that child marriage will be brought to an end in our society by 2041. We have already taken some steps for achieving that,” she said.
Hasina is now in the US to attend the UN General Assembly.
On Friday, she delivered an inspiration lecture at the Columbia University’s ‘World Leaders Forum’ and took questions from students.
The lecture was titled “Girls lead the way”.
“We are examining the steps taken to end child marriage by countries like UK and US. We are determined to end this,” she said.
Bangladesh has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage, with two thirds of girls ending up as child brides.
Most such early marriages take place, because parents are reluctant to let go “appropriate bridegrooms”.
If boys marry before they are 21 and girls before they are 18, it is considered a ‘child marriage’ in Bangladesh — and a punishable offence.
“I am trying to update this law and make it fit for the time,” Hasina told the Columbia students.
“Girls will come forward for nation-building braving all odds is what forms the basis for my thinking on peace and growth,” said Hasina.
The Prime Minister said women empowerment is still incomplete across the globe. “Specially they are far behind in conflict zones.”
She said 60 million children across the world still don’t go to schools– most of them are girls.
“But in Bangladesh, girls outnumber boys in schools,” she said.
Hasina said her government has tried to incentivise child education as a way to curb child labour.
Scholarships have been announced for poor students as they move to middle school to tackle dropouts.
Emphasis is given to technical education and vocational guidance, Hasina said.
But social problems cannot just be tackled by law, she said, adding: “We need consciousness to grow and many of our measures are to develop that.”
Hasina said the number of child labourers in Bangladesh’s thriving industry have significantly come down.
The 500 seats in the Columbia University hall were full and not a seat was found vacant.
90 percent of those attending were students – about 35 of them of Bangladesh origin.
Some of them addressed Hasina as Apa (elder sister), some as Auntie and others as Mashi (Bengali Hindu expression for mother’s sister). Many posed with her for pictures on the stage.
Hasina was so carried away by the response that she posed for ‘selfies’ with some students.
She advised the students of Bangladesh origin to return to serve the motherland after completing their education.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2015