We propose interventions to enhance the enforcement of child marriage laws in rural areas of Bangladesh by ensuring universal coverage of birth registration (UBR) of girls within the target group (aged 14-17) as well as creating awareness of a mobile-phone based surveillance and reporting system - connecting enforcing agencies with potential victims - to restrict the practice of child marriage.
Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of female child marriages in the world. Girls in Bangladesh, who are the victim of child marriage, are mostly from poor households and typically malnourished (or undernourished). This physical condition and under-age create the risk of premature birth and neonatal (or infant) death. Early childbearing in poor households also associated with further infant malnourishment, higher total fertility, which lead to a long-term poverty trap for these households.
Due to the lack of valid evidence, law execution to restrain child marriage is difficult by the local administration, especially in the rural areas. Also, reporting of such crimes is rare due to inadequate surveillance and no clear reporting protocol. Proposed birth registration and electronic reporting system will lead to enhanced enforcement of laws and reduce child marriage as the marriage registrars are required to validate the age against this document.
Existing evidence shows that early marriage leads to early school dropout, childbirth at a young age, poor health and educational outcomes for children, and poor health and economic outcomes for mothers. The system will provide increased agency, delayed marriage and thus delayed childbirth and improved health and education. Sustainability will be ensured by creating a complete birth registration database and ensuring that the authorities and public have sufficient knowledge and awareness.