On Monday 27 February 2017, the Bangladeshi Parliament decided that marriages should be possible for women under 18 years of age in certain cases.
One such case is pregnancy, for example. So if a 15-year-old is pregnant, it should in future be possible to marry despite being a minor. Rebecca Momin, chairman of the parliamentary committee for women and children, justifies the legal step by the fact that unmarried pregnant girls, especially in rural areas, would be expelled from the family, school and society. It is therefore important that pregnant girls can marry to protect them from this isolation.
Various human rights organizations, on the other hand, strongly criticized the new law. They see pregnancy as a possible way to marry a girl earlier and thus a setback in terms of child pregnancy and infant mortality. In addition, the risk that girls are exposed to sexual violence and forced pregnancies increases, because this would make marriage possible. The law is also not necessary because in rural areas only 1.5% of all marriages under 18 years of age only took place after pregnancy. And finally, do not define the law as'certain cases' with which the law can be abused.
Child marriage is a big problem in Bangladesh. In 2000, 65% of all girls were married before the age of eighteen and 38% before the age of fifteen. The situation has improved, but 52% are still married 18 years ago and 18% 15 years ago. Whether the new law will lead to further improvement or deterioration remains to be seen.
- Bangladesh Weakens Longstanding Law Against Underage Marriage (New York Times, 27.02.2017)
- Bangladesh’s plan to allow some child marriages is ‘step backwards’ (The Guardian, 17.01.2017)
- Human rights groups condemn new Bangladesh child marriage law (CNN, 03.03.2017)