New Child Marriage Law In Bangladesh
Mar 06, 2017 11:30 AM EST
The Bangladesh government passed a law that allows for child marriage to occur in "special circumstances" on Feb. 27. The law has stirred concerns about the violation of child rights.
While the government maintained the legal marriage age for children, which is 18 for girls and 21 for boys, the new provision in the law would allow child marriage to take place under "special circumstances". This will be done with parental consent and the court's permission if the decision is in the "best interest of the underage female or male".
The consent from the child, however, is not required, and "special circumstances" are yet to be defined in the child marriage law. Members of parliament have stated that allowing girls and boys to marry in special circumstances will ensure they are not being ostracized or discriminated in communities.
According to UNICEF, Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage globally, and certainly in South Asia, with the number of girls who marry below the age of 18 remaining at about 52 percent. Although the number is notably high, it shows a significant decrease from 2000, that indicated 65 percent.
Therefore, many fear that the new child marriage law with this special provision will send the nation backward, affecting progress made in the last nearly two decades, Aljazeera reported. While that happens, it will continue to demonstrate a harmful violation of a child's right to be informed and involved in decisions pertaining her own life.
Understanding social and cultural contexts is significant to address the issue of child marriage in Bangladesh, but the basic of human rights first needs to be reverted back. The younger generation should be empowered to demand their rights to be realized, and not adults or the courts to become a barrier to a child's health, development, future, and potential.