Dhaka, November 27 (Dhaka Tribune): Kalpana Sil, a fourteen-year old Hindu girl from Bashail in Tangail district of Bangladesh, was able to stop her forced marriage thanks to help from the local administration.
Kalpana is the daughter of Sribhash Chandra Sil and a student in the ninth grade at the Bashail Pilot Girls’ High School.
Kalpana’s parents had arranged for her be married on Monday, which Kalpana had strongly opposed from the beginning, saying she did not want to marry before she turned 18.
Her parents, however, paid no heed to her pleas and fixed the wedding with the help of relatives.
Kalpana went to the office of Bashail Upazila Assistant Land Commissioner Mohammad Nazmul Ahsan to inform him of the developments at her home. She sought help to prevent her marriage from taking place. She was accompanied by two of her friends.
Hearing about the case of forced child-marriage, the Assistant Land-Commissioner summoned Kalpana’s parents to his office and charged her father Tk1000, which is payable within 7 days, to avoid jail.
Later, Kalpana’s father was allowed to take her home, after he promised not to marry his daughter off before she turns 18 years of age. He made this promise in the presence of the Upazila Women’s Officer Mahmuda Khatun, Bashail Pilot Girls’ High School Headmaster Abul Kashem and many others.
Kalpana said she refused to accept the marriage because she knows of the perils of marrying before the age of 18 for girls, and so she sought help.
The school headmaster said if Kalpana’s parents are unable to bear the cost of her education, the school will to sponsor her studies until Senior School Certificate exams.
Ahsan said that courageous girls like Kalpana prove that the government-led anti-child marriage campaigns across the country have been successful.
Child marriage is endemic in rural Bangladesh. The Sheikh Hasina government has decided to amend the law to criminalize it but allowing it in cases where the social “honor” of a family has to be safeguarded as when there had been an accidental or illegal pregnancy .
(The featured picture at the top is a symbolic one used only to illustrate a child bride. Photo: Dhaka Tribune)