Digital device reduces child marriages in Kurigram

Kurigram district administration has taken an exceptional initiative to stop child marriage in the district by using digital device, reports BSS.
“This district has achieved tremendous success by applying new thoughts and digital system in reducing child marriages, a longtime social menace of the region,” Deputy Commissioner Khan M Nurul Amin said.
For the first time in the country, Kurigram district administration started marriage registration through Short Message Service (SMS) after verifying the original age of the bride and groom.
Initially the mobile-based marriage registration service was launched in three upazilas of the district. However, the administration has a plan to widen its mobile-based marriage registration service in the whole district aiming to stop child marriages completely.
Sources said the percentage of child marriage in the district has reduced significantly after introduction of the registration service.
The work of marriage registration started on June 15, 2014 experimentally in Sadar, Ulipur and Rajarhat upazilas of the district to prevent the child marriage under “SMS Based Certificate Before Marriage Registration to Stop Child Marriage Project” financed by service innovation fund of the a2i Programme.
To implement the project a short code -16100 has been adopted from BTRC office. Besides, an USSD menu and a hotline also started by using the code.
The administration is trying to create awareness among the school students about the negative impacts of child marriage and the new marriage registration system.
A child marriage protection cell was also formed at the school level, side by side discussion on the topic and public awareness is being created through imam, priest, Muslim and Hindu marriage registrars and public representatives.
Assistant commissioner of the district administration and coordinator of the project Wares Ansari said Kurigram is relatively a poor district compared to other parts of the country. According to Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey the percentage of child marriage in the district is about 78.1.
Since poverty is a major underpinning factor encouraging child marriage in the district, “SMS Based Certificate Before Marriage Registration to Stop Child marriage Project” got permission as an innovative project under the a2i Programme at the Prime Minister’s Office, he said.
Most of the families in village area of the district solemnize marriages of their school-going children due to socio-economic condition and do registration by hiding age of the bride and the groom.
But now age can be determined through mobile phone after a technical agreement with the National Birth and Death Registration authority.
After introduction of the system by the government, the incident of age forgery of the school-going children has stopped which resulted in child marriage reduction. Besides, schoolgirls can stop their marriages by calling the helpline – 16100 at any moment, Ansari added.