Government to enact tougher law
The government will enact a tougher law by this year to combat child marriage, as the existing Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 fails to serve the purpose, said State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki yesterday.
“The draft of the law will be placed in the cabinet soon,” she added.
There would be no scope to dodge the law regarding the legal age for marriage, and the punishment for breaking the law would be tougher, she informed a roundtable organised by the Bangla daily Prothom Alo and supported by World Vision Bangladesh at the newspaper's office in the capital.
According to an estimate by the United Nations Population Fund, 66 percent of Bangladeshi girls are married off before reaching 18 years, while half of them get married before the age of 15.
Many of these child marriages take place by dodging the law through giving a false date of birth in a notarised statement.
However, the new law would require either the birth certificate and voter ID card or educational certificates to prove a person's age.
Other speakers at the discussion proposed that digital birth registration certificates, which cannot be tampered by unauthorised personnel, should be one of the requirements for marriage under the new law.
National Human Rights Commission Member Kazi Riajul Haq pointed out that under the draft of the new act, a minor is a person who, if male, is under 21 years of age, and if female, is under 18 years of age.
“Like other acts of the country, the proposed act should recognise child as any person under the age of 18 years. Or else, the anomaly in age will create disruption in the implementation of the act,” he added.
Shabira Sultana Nupur, advocacy manager at World Vision Bangladesh, presented the keynote paper.
Tania Haque, head of the Department of Women and Gender Studies at Dhaka University; Monzur Hossain, secretary of Local Government Division; Shamsul Alam, director (child rights governance) of Save The Children, and Chandan Z Gomes, among others, spoke.