Rajshahi diocese cathedral parish in northwestern Bangladesh has launched a special month-long drive to tackle an alarming growth in underage sex among tribal Catholics. Church officials say pre-marital sex scandals are damaging lives and families in 18 tribal villages in the Good Shepherd Cathedral territories. They attribute the problem to alcoholism and drug addiction, lack of parental guidance, curiosity, bad companions and the bad effects of modern technology. The priests and nuns in the parish declared July as ‘moral regeneration month’, providing counseling and moral guidance to young Catholics in the parish to steer them away from harm. They aim at not letting the same things happen again and want to ensure children are put through schools properly. “Illicit sexuality among youths occurs out of curiosity, it’s not forced. Most of them do it under the influence of under-age alcoholism and drug addiction that comes from a lack of parental guidance,” said Father William Murmu, parish priest and campaign initiator. The priest, himself a tribal Santal, pointed out that tribal people in the northwest region are traditionally inclined to indiscriminate alcoholism, which can result in such problems. Missionaries of Charity sister M. Jeffery, who works with young offenders, added: “Poor tribal parents with a number of kids often live in one congested room. Their sexual life is often observed by children who later try to act on what they’ve seen.” Tribal Paharia Catholic village leader Noren Biswas, 55 said backward tribal society and customs were a major contributor to immoral behavior among youths and children.
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