Child MarriageChild Marriage is often a result of extreme poverty. Parents feel pressured to elevate financial burdens by reducing the number of children to feed. Girls who are forced into child marriage are at most risk of being caught up in the negative cycle of premature childbearing, high rates of domestic violence, higher rates of HIV/AIDS infection, high rates of maternal mortality, low levels of economic development, and high levels of child under nutrition. Child marriage is directly related to lower levels of educational attainment for girls and is a direct barrier to Bangladesh's attainment of the United Nationals Millennium Development Goals.
Child Marriage in Bangladesh
Bangladesh laws prohibit marriage of females below the age of 18:
- The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1939 prohibits marriage of females below the age of 18 and prohibits parents and guardians from the promoting or permitting a marriage involving a female below the age of 18.
- The Dowry Prohibition Ordinance 1986 prohibits all forms of dowry
- Despite these laws, According UNICEF, Bangladesh has the highest percentage of child marriages in Asia and ranks fourth in the world behind Niger, Chad and Mali.
- Marriage in Bangladesh marks the point in a woman's life when childbearing becomes socially acceptable. Girls that are forced into marriage before the age of 18, have a greater number of lifetime births.
The latest Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey reports:
- Approximately 60% of girls who are forced into child marriages become pregnant before they turn 19.
- Childhood mortality is directly related to the age of the mother. Childhood mortality is the highest among children born to women who give birth before they turn 20.
Teenage mothers are more likely to suffer from severe complications during delivery, which results in higher morbidity and mortality for both themselves and their children.
- For girls aged 15-19, death during childbirth is the number one cause of death.
- PHREB's research conducted in several rural areas of the country, has found that over 90% of all girls are married before they are 18 with some girls being married as young as 12 and 13.
PHREB and Preventing Child Marriage in BangladeshPHREB empowers adolescent girls in BKAF to save their peers from unwanted marriages, pregnancies and abortions. We empower girls to stand for themselves, for their rights and for the rights of other girls in their community. We develop girls' life-skills so that they are capable of dealing with their families and traditions. This self-support network is critical there is a direct relationship between child marriage and adolescent girls who become pregnant, which adversely affects the adolescent girls' health and well being.
PHREB connects adolescent girls chapters with PHREB's existing networks in the community such as Imams Movement for Women's Rights, Public Health Forum, Boys for Gender Equality, Journalists' Forum, Married Women Club, Headmasters' Forum, local elect government officials and sub-district or district level government and police officials to stop and prevent child marriages. When an event of child marriage occurs in a given community, BKAF chapter in the community or in the school discuss about the occurrence among themselves and contact with the parents of the girl who is getting married. The members try to motivate parents not to marry off their daughter. When the parents are unmoved, the members of the club contact with other networks and get the government help to stop the marriage.
In 2010, BKAF in Moheshkhali stopped 213 incidences of child marriage with the help of the Imams Movement for Women's Rights Network of PHREB and Moheshkhali Sub-district head of the government officials (UNO).