Bangladesh struggles with “child marriage”

July 15, 2007 | By | Reply More

Grinding poverty has forced villagers to accept both child marriages and dowries as unavoidable reality. A survey statistics shows that over 40% of women are married before reaching 15 years of age in Bangladesh.“Child marriage” is an acute problem in Bangladesh, being largely symptomatic of the extent of poverty which exists. And the suffering of a child after becoming a house wife in early age is really horrible.

A few months ago, I heard a story from on of my media colleges about Khadija Khatun who is staying in a village named Dilarpur on the bank of the gently flowing Jamuneswari River and some 350 kilometers north of Dhaka.
My college told me that, Khadija Khatun was 11 when she was married . That time she didn’t know what it means to be a wife. Unfortunately, a year later, Khadija fled back to her parents. Neither widowed nor divorced, Khadija ran away from in-laws who she says mistreated her and pressured her poor and landless father to make good on a promise to pay a dowry an illegal but common practice throughout much of rural Bangladesh.

Recently I followed an impressive report prepared by BBC mentioned that, classmates of a 13-year-old Bangladeshi school girl due to enter a forced marriage have united to stop the ceremony going ahead, police say. Around 50 pupils in the town of Satkhira took to the streets to demand that Habiba Sultana’s marriage be called off, they say.
Pupils even submitted a petition to police urging them to take action. Police summoned Habiba’s father and ordered him to stop the girl’s marriage, which they said was illegal. Her father was told to sign a bond in which he promised not marry off his daughter while she is still a child, the Bangladesh Daily Star reported. It said that the wedding was to have taken place in the south-western town of Satkhira on Friday.

BBC reported, Police say that Habiba, a student of Abdul Karim Girls’ High School, did not agree when her poverty-stricken father arranged for her to marry a 23-year-old neighbor. Police say that she was too frightened to protest.
When she told her friends about the impending marriage, they rallied round and urged her not to go ahead. Parents of her friends contacted Habiba’s father and tried to stop him from going ahead with the wedding. Initially he ignored their protests, but changed his mind after the police were alerted and small protests were held outside the school.

I think it’s important to create awareness among peoples to protest Child marriage.

According to official statistics, nearly half of Bangladesh’s 140 million people live in poverty. This Grinding poverty has forced villagers to accept both child marriages and dowries as unavoidable reality. A survey statistics shows that over 40% of women are married before reaching 15 years of age in Bangladesh.

Poor parents feel marrying off their young girls will relieve some of their economic burden. The groom’s family demands a dowry to grab some cash that helps ease their poverty. Poverty traps both (families), but the worst victim is the girl, who has no real shelter. Naturally uneducated child brides are unaware of their rights. Marriage to them means simply shifting homes.

However, we need joint collaboration between Governments, NGO staffs, Donors, Medias and security agencies to reduce child marriage. Its harmful for a developing nation like us. We need to aware peoples that the legal age of marriage is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys in Bangladesh.

Category: Knowledge for Development, Opinion, Rural Women

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  1. thanks for focusing an excellent area of social problem.

    may be a survey research info across the south asia on early age marriage may also add strength to the report. it will show which country stands where in this problem.

  2. animesh says:

    its a common scne in the northern dictrict of bangladesh.

    I am happy to see that it comes as news in the meida/

  3. Bipa says:

    Thanks for this excellent article on ‘Child Marriage’. I agree with the writers that we should create awareness among the people to protest child marriage.

  4. Present time, child marriage is a curse in the global society. Child marriage is a violation of human rights. In most cases young girls get married off to significantly older men when they are still children. Child marriages must be viewed within a context of force and coercion, involving pressure and emotional blackmail, and children that lack the choice or capacity to give their full consent. Child marriage must therefore always be considered forced marriage because valid consent is absent – and often considered unnecessary. Child marriage is common practice in India, Niger, Bangladesh, Pakistan Guinea, Burkina Faso, Africa and Nepal,where mostly girls are married below the age of 18.
    Child marriage has its own worse effect on the young girls, society, her children and health. Young girls who get married will most likely be forced into having sexual intercourse with their, usually much older, husbands. This has severe negative health consequences as the girl is often not psychologically, physically and sexually mature. Child brides are likely to become pregnant at an early age and there is a strong correlation between the age of a mother and maternal mortality and morbidity. Girls aged 11-13 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24 and girls aged 15-19 are
    twice as likely to die.

    The above is an extract from Arun Kumar essay “Child Marriage as an Human Rights Issue”. This essay was ranked among the top ten essay in Human Rights Defence’s Essay competition 2008. If you would like to read more, visit:

    Yours sincerely,

    Tomas Eric Nordlander

  5. Stephen Russell says:

    I don’t think it’s wrong for young girls to enjoy sex.In U.S. most girls have sex by age 15 anyway.An older man is excited by a younger girl and treats her as a treasure.As long as the man is sensitive and gentle when he breaks in the girl there is nothing wrong.

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