Chattogram, previously known as Chittagong, is the second biggest city in Bangladesh, after the capital Dhaka. Five million people live in the city, and it hosts the biggest port of Bangladesh, one of the busiest in South Asia. The city contributes 12% to the country’s gross national product. However, poverty still affects people in Chattogram. Children are suffering most from this; many do not get enough food and can only dream of going to school. Furthermore, children in Chattogram are at risk of being married at a young age.
Since 1989, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Chattogram.
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, 20,000 people in Chattogram 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 nutritious food.
For this reason, 5.5 million children suffer from malnutrition in Bangladesh. More specifically in Chattogram, 27% 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 the age of 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 Chattogram specifically, 7 million girls were married as a child. The government has set a national target to end child marriage by 2041.