Child marriage is a human rights violation. Despite laws against it, the practice remains widespread. Bangladesh has one of thee highest rates of child marriages in the world. 52% of girls are married by the age of 18 and 18% by the tender age of 15 according to UNICEF.
Child marriage is the poisonous product of poverty and gender inequality. Child marriages are very popular in rural areas of Bangladesh. Many impoverished parents do it thinking they are securing their daughter’s future by ensuring her husband will take care of her when they are unable to; but in reality- her life is probably about to be in ruins.
Some parents also wed off their daughter at a tender age to prevent rape; unfortunately they don’t realize that by marrying them off young is actually increasing the chance of rape. In most cases, young brides are uneducated or pulled out of their education so that they can assume household responsibilities.
This limits their opportunities, including future employment aspects. Some parents see their daughter as a burden; and dowries simply complicate the issue. Younger brides typically command smaller dowries creating an incentive for parents to marry their daughters off young. Parents in difficult circumstances may also marry their daughters off young as a source of income, which is a reason why despite the act being illegal, it still takes place.
Ending child marriage requires action in many levels. Bangladesh has taken a step forward and now is a member of the South Asian Initiative To End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) that adopted a regional plan to end child marriages.
The current age to get married in Bangladesh is 18 for women and 21 for men. Despite the debate to lower the legal age for marriage to 16 for woman, it still remains 18. I’m proud of my country and fully support their plans of putting a stop to child marriages.
Lets hope we can lower the rate of child marriages significantly by 2020. Till then, Joy Bangla!