Stop plan to lower marriage age to 16, HRW to Bangladesh

DHAKA : Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based global rights body, has urged the Bangladesh government to stop its move to lower girls’ marriage age to 16, reports UNB.
“The Bangladesh government is yet to take sufficient steps to end child marriage in spite of promises to do so,” it said in a new report released on Tuesday. Instead, in steps in the wrong direction, after her July 2014 pledge to end child marriage by 2041, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attempted to lower the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 16 years old, raising serious doubts about her commitment, the HRW said.
Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage of girls under the age of 15 in the world, with 29 percent of girls in Bangladesh married before age 15, according to a Unicef study.
“Child marriage is an epidemic in Bangladesh, and only worsens with natural disasters,” said Heather Barr, senior researcher on women’s rights.
“The Bangladesh government has said some of the right things, but its proposal to lower the age of marriage for girls sends the opposite message. The government should act before another generation of girls is lost.”
The 134-page report, “Marry Before Your House is Swept Away: Child Marriage in Bangladesh,” is based on more than a hundred interviews conducted across the country, most of them with married girls, some as young as age 10. Child marriage has been illegal in Bangladesh since 1929 and the minimum age of marriage has been set at 18 for women and 21 for men since the 1980s.
Despite that, Bangladesh has the fourth-highest rate in the world of child marriage before age 18, after Niger, the Central African Republic, and Chad. Sixty-five percent of girls in Bangladesh marry before age 18.
The government’s failure to enforce the existing law against child marriage and address the factors that contribute to it means that child marriage is a frequent coping mechanism for poor families.