Child marriage is a wide-ranging problem in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has the fourth-highest rate of child marriage before age 18 in the world. 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.
In Bangladesh there are several factors driving the high rate of child marriage. Gender discrimination feeds social attitudes and customs that harm girls at every stage of their lives and fuel the country’s extremely high rate of child marriage.
Bangladesh’s status as one of the countries in the world most affected by natural disasters and climate change adds an additional element of hardship to many families, especially those living in the most marginal and disaster-affected parts of the country.
On top of this, poverty is a major underpinning factor encouraging early marriage. Young girls are often considered as an economic burden by their families and their marriage to an older man and into another family is often a family survival strategy in order to obtain financial security.
Child marriage damages the lives of girls and their families in Bangladesh, including the discontinuation of secondary education, serious health consequences including death as a result of early pregnancy, abandonment, and domestic violence from spouses and in-laws.
Early marriage causes girls to drop out of education and limits their opportunities for social interaction and good employment. New brides are expected to work in their husbands’ households and are subject to the same hazards as child domestic workers.
There is limited enforcement of law relating to early marriage in Bangladesh. This is a principal area in which implementation and practice need to be adjusted in order to limit forced, child marriage and its negative effects. On top of this, advocacy is fundamental. Efforts must be improved to raise awareness and educate at all levels of society from grassroots initiatives to governmental policies.