Child Marriage in Bangladesh

by Ira Zenith

In Bangladesh, marriageable age for females is 18 and for males is 21. Due to social matters there is a flexibility in minimum marriageable age for females, and that is, if females want to marry before the age of 18, they have to have the consent of Law and their parents. This flexibility retrograde the eradication of child marriage. Though eradication of child marriage is occurring slowly in peripheral areas. However the rates of child marriage are still high. 66 per cent of girls are married before the age of 15. Worldwide a marriage by a female below the age of 18 is regarded as a child marriage. Bangladeshi law provides penal sanctions for the contraction of underage marriages, although such marriages are not considered invalid.

Despite the law, child marriage rates in Bangladesh are among the highest in the world. Every two out of three marriages involve child marriages. Eighty percent of such marriages take place in poor and peripheral families (families residing in peripheral or rural Bangladesh).

The main reason behind child marriages was dropping out of school. The girls that dropped out of classes 5 to 8 are married off. But the girls who continue their studies experience child marriages less. So there should be more budgeting allocation in social safety sector to keep girls in their studies; especially to cut the rate of drop outs.

Society has to render some duties to its every member. Like the mother in law of the to-be bride may change her views while choosing her bride.

Marriage often transfers the control of a young girl’s sexuality to others, most often husbands and in-laws. So that the life of a young girl regulated by them.

In peripheral Bangladesh, people think girls are only valuable because they can have children. Girls have to know their worth and she has to perceive the truth that she herself is valuable. They have to have the right to help their respective families and value their girl children.

To regulate the role of older females to control the rates of child marriage, society has to pay attention to the role of the groom’s mother in child marriage. As long as we address parents purely on terms of what they want for their own children, and not on the bigger picture of the whole community, we are not going to move the rate of rate of child marriage. If the demand for brides is more for young uneducated female, to take care of the house, parents will still feel pressured to marry their daughters early, even if they know it will have negative consequences for their girls, families and on the Economy on the whole. To keep the girls on the safe track, a lot of steps should be taken to keep the young girls in schools, building adolescents’ skills, opportunities that every girl deserves.

In a lot of places around peripheral Bangladesh, where child marriage is prevalent, the father is often the key decision maker in the family. He decides what is good for his children, without asking them. Eye-opening stories and dramas should be published and broadcasted to make the realized the actual situation and thus a change might come to change the dynamics for the fathers’ sons’ marriage. The to-be groom’s father can start a positive change.

In many areas around peripheral Bangladesh marriage is the only option for a girl to support herself and be socially respectable. For a lot of child brides, getting married seems like the only way to have a future. When proper realization will be perceived, their lives will change. Having new choices will make all the differences to girls. With new jobs and skills, they not only have the resources to make changes for their own children, but also the confidence to speak up. They need to boost their guts and tell their stories to all, so that the next generation of girls can have options besides a stressful marriage where both girls and their children suffer.

A lot of parents get their under aged girls married just to look like a good social being and keeping the tradition. Everyone has felt the power of needing to keep up the image that society, tradition expects of us. For example, dress up the right way, have the right kind of job and go to the right schools.

All over the world, we see examples of social changes where people decide a different image works for them. Let the parents learn a lot about early marriage and its consequences. Thus the ‘right image’ of a girl married young might not be right for the community anymore; and lead their families more wisely. Educated females leading to a better society and they can help other females in their community live their lives free from violence. Actually violence happens when females depend on the male members’ earnings and stay under male domain.

The worst thing in this money mind society is Dowry, the money the bride’s family pays to the groom, is the big factor in child marriage. People worry that the older a girl is, the more they will have to pay; so the bride’s family marry the girls at an early age.

Sometimes girls agree to marriages because it seems like a way to escape the challenges of their current lives, from feeling like a burden on their families to not being able to access an education or make decisions. Girls also dream of a better life may end up in a marriage that is worse than what they left.

Social awareness is the most needed realization for the society. However, as we all know, the realization within entire families and communities to raise the value of girls is the key factor to eradicate child marriage in the near future.

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