Bangladesh Weakens Longstanding Law Against Underage Marriage

Source: The New York Times

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh’s Parliament softened its landmark law against underage marriage on Monday, a move that human rights activists say could roll back the country’s decades-long campaign to curtail teenage pregnancy and maternal and infant mortality.

A new provision in the Child Marriage Restraint Act, which dates to 1929, allows girls under the age of 18 to marry in some circumstances. The change was met with praise from Islamist groups, which said it fell more in line with traditional religious practices.

Bangladesh has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage, but it has been gradually dropping under steady pressure from the government.

In 2000, 65 percent of girls were married before age 18, and 38 percent were married before 15, according to Unicef. Now those rates have dropped to 52 percent and 18 percent.

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