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7 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Stopping child marriages

Stopping child marriages

Recently at the launch of Rajshahi Divisional Report titled “Child Well-being Survey in Urban Areas of Bangladesh 2016” speakers stressed collective efforts of all government and non government entities concerned have become an urgent need to combat child marriage and child pregnancy. Prevention of children marriage and child pregnancy is the precondition for substantial and sustainable improvement of child and maternal health.

Besides the health consequences, there are so many other aspects of child marriage which are not good for the child herself, her family and society at large. Based on these facts, child marriage is considered one the most important child-protection issues. Marriage can be contracted only with the free consent of the two parties — which makes it clear that such a contract cannot be entered into by children. How a child can be expected to go into a lifelong contract when he or she is not expected to drive and/or vote? Marriage is a lifetime contract and a child who does not even understand what a contract is cannot be expected to choose her or his life partner.

Entrenched in gender discrimination and structural inequality, child marriage initiates a cycle of lifelong disadvantage for girls. It is the state’s duty to use its power to ensure that girls are accorded an equal chance to live, learn and be protected. It is imperative for the state to institute protective legal and policy frameworks for girls’ rights.

The fight against early marriage has never been easy in Bangladesh, a country with one of the highest rates of early marriage in the world. According to UNICEF, about 52 per cent of girls are married off below the age of 18—an improvement over figures from 2000 when the rate was 65 per cent. Anyone expecting a quicker progress would be frustrated, however, especially after the government's regressive step earlier this year to keep a special legal provision for marriage under 18. While it's imperative that the provision is removed as quickly as possible, we need to understand the social and cultural contexts of early marriage and ensure greater community involvement for a better outcome.

If educated and empowered properly, community members, especially women and girls, can do wonders in the fight against early marriage. Stopping child marriage has significant bearing on women’s education and there is a clear multiplier effect to educating girls. Thus the state must challenge discriminatory social norms buttressing child marriage by using legal and advocacy campaigning tools.  

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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