Just a government trick for showing smaller number of child marriages
The government's move to lower the marriageable age for females in certain cases seems to be a trick to give an impression that the number of child marriages has reduced in the country, said a statement of Samajtantrik Mohila Forum, which was supported by quite a few eminent persons yesterday.
According to a law drafted by the women and children's affairs ministry, if a 16-year-old girl marries with the consent of her parents or the court for justified reasons, then in this case, she will not be considered as an underage or a minor.
The forum's statement said it is a Unicef's report of September 2014, which showed a higher rate of child marriage in Bangladesh, that has prompted the formulation of the law.
Shampa Basu, secretary to the organisation, read out the statement at a meeting titled "16 as marriageable age on condition: New obstacle in the way of women's freedom", organised by the the fourm at Dhaka Reporters Unity.
According to the Unicef report, the average rate of child marriage in the country is 65 percent and 74 percent of children are married off before turning 18 while 39 percent are married off before turning 15 which is the highest rate in the world.
The girls, who are married off before 15, become mothers of two or more children before the age of 24 and this is why the number of maternal deaths and malnourished people are rising, it added.
Prof Amena Mohsin of the international relations department of Dhaka University said none of the mainstream political parties are paying heed to the government move.
Noted columnist Syed Abul Maksud said it would be appropriate to name the “Child Marriage Restraint Act” as “child marriage encouraging act”.
Journalists Abu Sayeed Khan and Sohrab Hossain and Sikshya Barta's Editor AN Rasheda also spoke at the event chaired by Rawshan Ara Rusho, the forum's president.