By Tahia Asad of Purple Sheek Media
Although the legal age for marriage is 18 for girls (21 for boys), child marriage is a common occurrence in Bangladesh, particularly among the poorest populations. According to UNICEF, Bangladesh is home to 38 million child brides. Of these, 13 million married before age 15.
What Causes Child Marriage?
Many factors interact to place a child at risk of marriage such as:
- Parents who are unable to feed their children, or pay for their education costs, may seek a husband for their daughters simply so that the girls can eat
- The perception that marriage will provide ‘protection’
- Customary or religious laws that condone the practice
- Poor girls lack access to education because their families cannot afford fees for exams, uniforms, stationery, and other associated costs
- Sexual harassment of unmarried girls – and failure by police to stem this harassment – also helps prompt child marriage.
- Social pressures and traditions, including the widespread practice of paying dowry, and lower dowries for younger girls, make child marriage not only accepted, but expected in some communities
Effects of Child Marriage
- Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights.
- Early pregnancy and childbirth limit a girl’s opportunities and often lead to health complications.
- Girls who marry young usually drop out of school and are more likely to remain poor.
- About half of teenage girls in Bangladesh suffer from malnutrition and anemia.
- Child marriage often compromises a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling, and limiting her opportunities for career and vocational advancement.
- It may similarly place boys in an adult role for which they are unprepared and may place economic pressures on them and curtail their opportunities for further education or career advancement.
How can Child Marriages be stopped?
1. Educating girls through our learning centers Education plays a critical role in keeping girls safe from child marriage. The longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to be married before age 18 and have children during her teenage years.
2. Empowering Girls
Every girl has the right to decide her future, but not every girl knows this – that’s why empowering girls is so crucial to ending child marriage.
When girls are confident in their abilities, armed with the knowledge of their rights, and supported by peer groups of other empowered girls, they can stand up and say “NO” to injustices like child marriage.
Empowered girls can re-shape perspectives and challenge conventional norms of what it means to be a girl.
3. Giving women the chance to be self-sufficient
Creating Opportunities for the Girl Child
Providing women with livelihood opportunities such as self-sufficient skill training is an effective way to prevent marriages from taking place of their children because of financial needs.
BASMAH believes single or married women can take part to contribute to family expenses with their husbands and decrease financial burdens