Rajshahi is a city located in the north-west of the country, near the Indian border. The city is well known for its agriculture, mainly of mangoes and lychees. It is also famous for its excellent silk, which is used for saris. The industry employs around 100,000 people directly or indirectly. In addition, the city has had one of the biggest decreases in harmful air particles in the world in recent years, a mentionable achievement.
However, poverty still affects people in Rajshahi, with many living in slums on the border of the city. Children are suffering from these harsh living conditions. Furthermore, many children in Rajshahi are forced to marry at a young age.
Since 1979, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Rajshahi.
Families move to cities in search of a better life and job opportunities, or because they have been victims of the ravages of climate change. However, they often end up in slums on the border of the city. In fact, around 5,000 households in Rajshahi live in slums.
Children are most vulnerable to the poverty in these slums, and to the lack of access to safe drinking water and inadequate sanitation. They also do not have proper access to food. For this reason, 5.5 million children suffer from malnutrition in Bangladesh, and more specifically in Rajshahi, 23% of children under 5 are underweight.
Bangladesh ranks among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest levels of child marriage. This means a harrowing 51% of women aged 20 to 24 were first married before 18. Child marriage is a violation of the universal declaration of human rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound. Married girls in Bangladesh are over four times more likely to be out of school than unmarried girls.
Furthermore, there is also an increased risk of child pregnancies and domestic violence. In Rajshahi specifically, 6 million girls were married as a child. The government has set a national target to end child marriage by 2041.