When the entire world was celebrating International Women’s Day and trying their best to give a more secured and wholesome environment to girls and women a new Bangladeshi law could effectively reduce the minimum age of marriages to zero, according to a campaign group Girls Not Brides. Last week, the country’s marriage age was amended by the legislators to let under-18s wed in ‘special cases’ for ‘greater good of the adolescent’ and with parental and court consent. The group Girls Not Brides has come out and criticized the new rules saying that the provision does not define’special cases’ or ‘greater good’ and is left open to interpretation or to legitimize statutory rape. The group also stated in a statement that the consent provision will not be able to prevent children forced into marriage and young girls married off to much older guys. The statement read: ‘The need to protect the “honour” of girls who have become pregnant was widely cited by the Bangladesh government as the reason for this provision. However marriage is not the best way to protect adolescent girls and exposes them to greater harm.’
However, a senior Bangladeshi official denied that the provision would lead to more abuse. Apparently he was stating that the lawmakers had taken into account the social context of life in the Muslim nation and adequate protections were taken. Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in Asia and is one of the top countries in the world with 52% of the girls married before they attain the age of 18, and 18% married before they are 15.
This law will further put a dampener on the girls’ spirit and will pose more problems and prohibitions on them rather than liberating and protecting them.