A new report from UNICEF calls for accelerated action to end child marriage in Bangladesh by 2030. Despite significant progress in recent years, Bangladesh has the highest prevalence of child marriage in South Asia and ranks among 10 countries in the world with the highest levels. The report is a data brief laying down the trends in child marriage across the country since 1970. It also found that prevalence of child marriage in Bangladesh is less common than in previous generations, dropping from over 90 per cent around 1970 to just over 50 per cent today. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that, because of economic uncertainty, interruptions in schooling, disruptions of services and other factors, the pandemic has the potential to threaten progress made thus far against child marriage.
Following are some key facts that the report highlighted:
Bangladesh is home to 38 million child brides, including currently married girls along with women who were first married in childhood. Of these, 13 million are married before age 15. Fifty-one percent of young women in Bangladesh were married before their 18th birthday.
Bangladesh ranks among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest levels of child marriage and has the highest prevalence of child marriage in South Asia.
A girl's risk of child marriage is influenced by certain background characteristics. For example, child brides are somewhat more likely to reside in rural areas and to live in poorer households, and are less likely to have more than a secondary education.
Bangladesh has made less progress than its South Asian neighbours, but compared to other countries with the world's highest levels of child marriage, its progress is exceptionally strong.
Married girls are over four times more likely to be out of school than unmarried girls. Declines in the practice have been observed across wealth groups, with more progress seen among the richest.
Those with an education beyond secondary school are least likely to be child brides, even if they live in poorer households and reside in rural areas.
Among districts most affected by child marriage, differences in prevalence are most evident by education levels, rather than wealth or place of residence.
Nearly one in three child brides have a spouse who is at least 10 years older compared to one in four young women who married in adulthood. Nearly 5 in 10 child brides gave birth before age 18, and 8 in 10 gave birth before age 20. Early childbearing is much less common among those who married later.
At least 2 in 10 women have family planning needs that are unmet by modern methods; levels are similar among child brides and those who married in adulthood.
Many women lack antenatal and delivery care in Bangladesh. In some divisions, child brides are even less likely to receive such services than other women Married girls are over four times more likely to be out of school than unmarried girls.
Child brides are more likely to say that wife-beating is justified than their peers who married later.
Meeting the Sustainable Development Goal to end child marriage by 2030, or the national target to end child marriage by 2041, will require a major push. Progress must be at least 8 times faster than the rate observed over the past decade to meet the national target, or 17 times faster to meet the SDG target.
Compiled by Law Desk (Source: Unicef.Org).