Almost 58% of females in the country are married before the age of 18, when they are not mentally ready for the responsibilities of the family and having children, and thus suffer from various mental problems.
"Child marriage has a high reproductive risk and adversely affects physical and mental health. There are tendencies of depression, anxiety, unreasonable fear, fresh air and suicide among victims. Young mothers of 15-19 are twice as likely to die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth than women of 20-24," said Prof Mohammad Mainul Islam of Population Sciences Department at Dhaka University at a webinar on Sunday.
The Department of Population Sciences, Dhaka University, in collaboration with SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, organised the 3rd National Conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2021.
In Bangladesh, the minimum age for marriage for girls is 18 years and for boys, it is 21 years, but in special cases, marriage under the age of 18 is allowed subject to court permission.
Highlighting a Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS), Mainul Islam said 73% of women between 20 and 24 years used to get married before they were 18 in 1993-94, which declined to 69% in 1996-97, and 65% in 1999-20. Later, the number dropped to 59% in 2014-15, but there has been no significant development since the last BDHS conducted in 2017-18.
As part of this conference and to engage with the country's young population, the department is organising seven webinars on the topic for the students of different public and private universities.
Almost 80 students from the Bangladesh University of Health Sciences and the State University of Bangladesh took part in the seventh webinar held on Sunday.
The Business Standard was the media partner of the event.
While discussing menstrual health and hygiene management, Dr Nazneen Akhter, an Assistant Professor (Adjunct), Department of Public Health, North South University, said periods need to be discussed openly with family members. Sanitary napkins should be made easily available in villages where girls lag in using napkins.
Mohammad Bellal Hossain, professor of Population Sciences at Dhaka University said the authorities concerned has to tighten monitoring to curb child marriage highlighting the adverse effects of child marriage.
Shafayat Sultan, a lecturer at the Department of Population Science of Dhaka University, conducted the programme.