Opinion Pieces Discuss Challenges Of Ending Child Marriage In Bangladesh

Project Syndicate: A Blueprint for Ending Child Marriage
Sajeda Amin, senior associate at the Population Council; M. Niaz Asadullah, professor at the University of Malaya; Sara Hossain, lawyer at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and honorary executive director of the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust; and Zaki Wahhaj, senior lecturer at the University of Kent

“…What can be done to end [child marriage]? … Unfortunately, [in Bangladesh,] legal efforts to protect women and girls by criminalizing aspects of child marriage face significant obstacles, due to the prevailing political culture, the accommodation of religious extremists, and the persistence of gender bias. … The existing law penalizing aspects of child marriage — the Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) of 1929 — … stipulates terms of imprisonment or a fine for anyone who ‘contracts,’ ‘solemnizes,’ or arranges a marriage with a girl under 18. But, with some recent exceptions, it is frequently ignored and rarely enforced. In the last three years, various drafts of a bill to give the law more teeth have been proposed. But the proposals focused on criminalizing facilitation or participation; none would invalidate child marriage itself. … Bangladesh’s success in empowering girls and ending child marriage will hinge on strengthening the rule of law by closing existing loopholes. … It is still possible for Bangladesh to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating child marriage by 2030. If the government leads, we are confident that the people of Bangladesh will eagerly follow” (3/7).

Al Jazeera: The dangers of the new child marriage law in Bangladesh
Soumya Guha, acting country director in Bangladesh for Plan International

“On February 27, the Bangladesh government passed a law that would allow for child marriage to occur in ‘special circumstances.’ … Bangladesh has made regional and global commitments to end child marriage. The government even committed to ending all child marriage by 2041. How are we meant to achieve these goals when we will allow child marriage to occur in certain circumstances? … The act, as it currently states, does not require the consent of the girl or boy, in order for a marriage to occur. Her parents and the court may approve if the decision is in the ‘best interest of the under-aged girl or boy.’ … This special provision is not only a step backwards for the eradication of child marriage in the country, but also demonstrates a harmful violation of a child’s right to be heard, informed, and involved in decisions that impact on her life. … The future of Bangladesh is vested in its young people. … This law has unimaginable impact and has the ability to change the future of millions of girls in our country. This is why they must have a bigger say in their future. We must not continue to decide for them” (3/4).

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