Kurigram can be a role model for other districts in bringing down child marriage rate but a long- term action plan and more coordinated efforts are required to achieve the goal, said discussants during the project’s closing workshop.

Deputy Director of the Local Government department, Zilufa Sultana, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Rajarhat Upazila Nura Tasnim, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Fulbari Upazila Sumon Das, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Kurigram Sadar Upazila Rasedul Hasan, Additional Superintendent of Police Sushant Chandra Roy, Director - Girls Rights Hub of Plan International Bangladesh Kashfia Firoz, and Nazrul Ghani, Head of Administration and General Service were present as special guests.

The Deputy Commissioner said that everyone in Kurigram now knows that child marriage is a crime. But they have to be more conscious and monitor the situation from their own place. “We must say no to child marriage”.

The BBFG project has been supporting the Kurigram district administration in implementing the district action plan to reduce the rate of child marriage under 15 years to zero, and to reduce the rate of child marriage under 18 years to one-third of what it was.

Under the leadership of Kurigram district administration, child marriage prevention committee, local government, marriage registrar, matchmaker, imam and priests are working together. As a result, the district’s child marriage has been reduced, he added.

Kashfia Feroz, director of Girls Rights Hub of Plan International Bangladesh said: “Despite the pandemic, the rate of child marriage in Kurigram under the age of 15 has come down to 6 per cent from 17 per cent. This is a great achievement for us. I urge everyone to hold on to the BBFG project’s success so that we can declare Kurigram a child marriage free district.”

As per the government’s declaration, and following the guidelines of the Governance Innovation Unit (GIU) at the Prime Minister’s Office, 3 upazilas, 73 union parishads and 3 municipalities of Kurigram district have already been primarily declared as “child marriage-free” through the BBFG project.

The Building Better Future for Girls (BBFG) project, funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Bangladesh, has been implemented across the Kurigram district since 2017 with the support of Plan International Bangladesh and local partner RDRS Bangladesh. The project will end by 31 March, 2022.

The BBFG project has taken various initiatives to stop child marriage including formation of youth forum in all unions of Kurigram, selection of champion fathers, strengthening and formation of child marriage prevention committee and developing action plan to stop child marriage at district, upazila and union and ward levels, and providing training to over 6000 kazis, imams, matchmakers and priests involved in the process to execute marriage.

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