Educational institutions' closure for one and a half years, a lack of effective monitoring and measures by the local administration and law enforcement authorities, the return of migrant workers who are seen as perfect grooms have been identified as major factors behind the increase in girls' dropout rate and child marriage.
Drops in family incomes, coupled with the perception of girls being burdens for the family, also played a vital role in this across the country amid this ongoing pandemic, speakers said at a briefing on Thursday.
The National Committee for the International Rural Women's Day Celebration demanded increased investment in girls' education at the virtual event.
Ferdous Ara Rumee, the keynote speaker at the discussion, said, "Bangladesh ranks fourth in the world in terms of child marriage rates, and the country has more than 4 million child brides, according to Unicef."
She said child marriage rate has risen at an alarming rate during the pandemic.
Tamanna Rahman, a community radio specialist, said most of the dropped out girls fell victim to child marriage and most of these marriages are not registered. She alleged that the law enforcement agencies could not implement the initiatives taken against child marriage.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of the COAST Foundation, said different studies have shown that the rate of child marriage decreased when girls were engaged in education up to graduation. "Therefore, we should focus on increasing expenditure on girls' education."