Political parties should hold talks to end violence
Visiting UK Minister for International Development Lynne Featherstone yesterday said all political parties of Bangladesh should hold talks to end the cycle of election violence, and ensure that the next election is participatory, free, fair and accountable.
“This is the way forward that I see,” she told a pre-departure press conference at the British High Commission Staff Amenities Centre.
Lynne, who came to Dhaka on a three-day visit to attend the Bangladesh Girl Summit-2014, also encouraged the political parties to create a ground so that everybody feels that elections are fair and just.
Replying to a question, Lynne, the British parliamentary under-secretary of state for international development, said the political parties need to continue conversations to end the five-year cycle of violence for the betterment of the country's future.
Meanwhile on the issue of women's rights, Lynne assured that the UK government would continue to support women and girls in Bangladesh in education and security.
Lynne further said that the UK wanted to help keep the commitments made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina regarding curbing
child marriage in Bangladesh.
She said Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in South Asia -- 65 percent -- that is two in every three girls, and the fourth highest in the world.
Sheikh Hasina, at the Girl Summit in London, pledged that Bangladesh would end marriage of girls under the age of 15 by 2021 and under the age of 18 by 2041, and reduce the number of girls getting married between 15 and 18 years of age by more than one third by 2021, she said.
“We want to help make those commitments a reality,” Lynne said. Asked about reducing the marriageable age of girls to 16 from 18, she said it seemed to “contradict” what Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged.
The UK government and Unicef hosted the first ever Girl Summit 2014 in July in London and began to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriages within a generation.
British High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Gibson and Country Representative of the Department for International Development (DFID) Sarah Cooke were also present at the conference.