Bangladesh’s plan to allow some child marriages is ‘step backwards’

theguardian: by Nita Bhalla —

Campaigners say proposed law change permitting child marriage in ‘special cases’ would increase risks of rape, domestic violence and early pregnancyA 15-year-old girl on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man in Bangladesh

A 15-year-old girl on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Photograph: Allison Joyce/Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Bangladesh will be taking a step backwards in efforts to end child marriage if parliament approves changes to a law that would permit girls below 18 to be married in “special cases”, a global alliance of charities said last week.

The nation has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, despite a decades-old law that bans marriage for girls under 18 and men under 21.

 

Girls Not Brides, a coalition of more than 650 charities, said Bangladesh’s parliament was expected to consider the proposed change to the Child Marriage Restraint Act during the next session beginning on 22 January.

Girls Not Brides in Bangladesh said the proposed change was “alarming” and a step backwards for the country, which has reduced child marriage in recent years.

“We have worked with thousands of girls who have been pulled out of education, married off early, bear the scars of early pregnancy, and forced to marry their abusers. This is simply unacceptable,” said a spokesperson from the alliance’s Bangladesh chapter in a statement.

The proposed law was open to abuse since it gave no definition of the term “special cases”, Girls Not Brides said.

Statements by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina suggest exceptions would apply in instances of accidental pregnancy, or where a marriage would help to protect a girl’s “honour” and the family’s reputation in this largely conservative society.

Bangladeshi officials were not immediately available for comment.

Along with Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Guinea, South Sudan and Burkina Faso, Bangladesh is among the eight countries with the highest rates of child marriage, despite moves to strengthen law enforcement and toughen penalties against the crime.

In 2011, 32.5% of girls aged between 15 and 19 were married compared with 37.5% a decade before, said Girls Not Brides, citing data from Bangladesh’s Bureau of Statistics.

 

Campaigners say girls face a greater risk of rape, domestic violence and forced pregnancies – which may put their lives in danger – as a result of being married as children.

Child brides are often denied the chance to go to school, are isolated from society and forced into lives of economic dependence as wives and mothers.

Yet the practice continues largely due to a combination of social acceptance and government inaction, activists say.

“Marriage before 18 does not ensure a pregnant girl’s safety,” said Lakshmi Sundaram, executive director for Girls Not Brides. “In reality, it exposes her to the risk of sexual, physical and psychological violence.

“The progress Bangladesh has made to address child marriage is impressive, and reflects a real commitment from the highest levels of the government. Now is not the time to regress.”

Origional Post here: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/17/bangladesh-plan-to-allow-some-child-marriages-is-step-backwards?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Facebook

1 reply

  1. quote: “Only teenagers in Iceland lose their virginity earlier, at an average age of 15.7. Of the countries surveyed, Slovakia had the tardiest teens, who were on average a mature 18 when they first got it on.

    Of course, health professionals tend to play down the significance of comparisons when it comes to sexual activity. In remarks reminiscent of the famous quality-over-quantity take on male endowment, the WHO’s Gunta Lazdane commented, “It’s not the age that counts, it’s when young people are ready for it.”

    And German girls are apparently ready earlier than their male peers. The report reveals that 33.5 percent of 15-year-old girls in Germany have had sex, while only 22.5 percent of boys of that age have divested themselves of their virginal status. The age of consent in Germany is 14.” unquote.

    33.5 percent of 15 year old German girls have sex. And you people complain about ‘child marriage’ at age 15 in Bangladesh ?????

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