BANGLADESH: Rights groups against lowering girls’ marriage-age limit

Sunday 19 October 2014

Date: 14 October 2014

Source: UNB

Type: News

Keywords: Child marriage, Int’l rural women’s day

Dhaka, Oct 14 (UNB)- Several rights organisations on Tuesday strongly opposed the government’s move to lower the age limit of girls’ marriage to 16, saying it will deteriorate the situation increasing the maternal mortality rate.

From a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club in the city, they also urged to government to term all under-18 girls children as it is declared by all the international laws and conventions.

National Committee to Observe Int’l Rural Women’s Day organised the press conference titled ‘No marriage of under-18 to protect women’s health: Stop legitimising child marriage’.

The speakers also announced that non-governmental development organisations across the country will observe the International Rural Women’s Day on Wednesday.

Ferdaus Ara Rumee, Policy Research and Campaign Coordinator of EquityBD, moderated the press conference while Shamima Akhter, Vice-president of the National Committee and Executive Director of ASWO Foundation, read out the keynote paper on behalf of the committee.

Among others, Executive Members of the committee Nazma Begum from Tangail, Nahid Sultana from Gazipur and Asif Iqbal of SPP from Dinajpur spoke at the press conference.

In her keynote paper, Shamima Akhter said in Bangladesh, especially in the rural area, there is a tradition of child marriage in spite of the presence of law where marriage of girls under 18 is prohibited and in spite of all the social campaign.

In this situation, if the minimum age of girls’ marriage is lowered to 16, it will deteriorate the situation and ultimately it will increase the rate of maternal mortality, she said terming it conflicting with the MDG target of reversing the mother’s mortality rate.

Nazma Begum said though existing law allows the girls to marry if she is at least 18 but people in the villages are marrying off their daughters within 16. But if it is made 16 by law, girls of 12-13 will be married off, she added.

“Nothing will be able to stop this child marriage and that will be very unfortunate for our adolescent girls. It’ll increase the number of child mothers in the society,” she said.###

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