A World Bank report published on Tuesday revealed some predictable, but still disturbing numbers about the cost of child marriages in developing nations. The report, titled "Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Global Synthesis Report" highlighted the staggering economic cost of child-marriages, adding to the already established social costs that we are familiar with.
The report, through analysis of data of 25 developing countries, Bangladesh included, found that child marriage will cost these countries trillions of dollars in the next decade. On the other hand, if child marriage were ended, fertility rates would drop in the worst affected countries. In economic terms, this would translate to gains of over USD 500 billion annually by 2030. This is on top of the "large positive effect" this would mean in terms of education of girls and their children. The report also found that our lofty goal of ending world poverty is hampered too due to this social evil.
Coming back to Bangladesh, the report cites that almost 60 percent of the country's age-group between 18 to 22 got married before they were 18. Despite our efforts of curbing and criminalising child marriages, the practice continues. Here, we must point out yet again that the special provision to allow child marriages under special circumstances that has been added to the Child Marriage Restraint Act could undo the limited progress we had made to protect the rights of girls in this country, and give such marriages a legal sanction.
We urge the authorities once again to reconsider the amendment that was made, and realise that without a strong stance to oppose child marriage, these girls will continue to be forced into such marriages. If the human rights and moral considerations were not enough, the WB report shows that ending this practice is also the "economically smart thing to do".