Hot! Bangladesh Passes Controversial Child Marriage Law

The legislation has sparked an outcry from human rights groups

Photo by SAM Nasim

The Bangladeshi government has passed a new law that relaxes a girl’s marriageable age from 18 to as low as 14.

The Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed on Monday and keeps the minimum marriageable age for males at 21 and for females at 18 but relaxes the age bar for “special circumstances” including for girls who elope, are raped or bear children out of wedlock.”

Several human rights groups have criticized the law calling it a setback for women and child rights in Bangladesh.

Nur Khan Liton who represents the Child Rights Advocacy Coalition in Bangladesh told Channel News Asia, “The biggest concern is the law has not set any minimum marriage age for special circumstances, meaning children can be married off at the age of 14-15.”

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Asia with 52 per cent of girls marrying before 18 and 18 per cent married before they turn 15. The problem is more prevalent in the rural society where 71% of girls are married before the age of 18, compared to 54% in urban areas.

Rebeca Momin, a ruling party lawmaker who heads parliament’s committee on women’s and child affairs said that the law reflects the reality in villages where 70% of Bangladesh’s current population reside.

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