Dhaka,  Saturday
25 May 2024

Child Marriage: A Fight for Bangladeshi Daughters 

Moriom Akter

Published: 21:05, 22 April 2024

Update: 15:54, 25 April 2024

Child Marriage: A Fight for Bangladeshi Daughters 

Photo: Collected

Child marriage casts a long shadow across Bangladesh, impacting millions of girls and trapping them in a cycle of poverty and hardship. Despite being illegal since 1929, with the minimum age for marriage set at 18 for females and 21 for males, the reality on the ground paints a different picture.

UNICEF reports that around two-thirds of women aged 20-24 were married before 18, with a staggering 29% married before 15. This translates to millions of girls - 38 million according to UNICEF -being robbed of their childhood and forced into a future they didn't choose.

The roots of this issue run deep, entwined with social norms, economic insecurity, and lack of education. Poverty often forces families to marry off their daughters early, as a daughter is seen as an economic burden, and marrying her off means one less mouth to feed. The dowry system also plays a role, with families believing they can secure a better deal for a younger daughter.

The consequences of child marriage are devastating. Girls forced into marriage are more likely to drop out of school, limiting their opportunities and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Early pregnancy puts their health at immense risk, as their bodies are simply not fully developed for childbirth. They also face a higher risk of domestic violence and social isolation.

So where do we begin to dismantle this harmful practice?

Change requires a multi-pronged approach. Enforcing existing laws and raising awareness about the dangers of child marriage are crucial first steps. Investing in education, particularly for girls, empowers them to make informed choices about their future. Community engagement is vital, challenging traditional mindsets and fostering a culture that values girls' education and well-being.

Success stories exist, offering a glimmer of hope. Girls like Aisha, with the support of her family and community organizations, defied child marriage traditions and pursued her education. Now a doctor, she fights for a future where girls have the right to dream and reach their full potential.

Eradicating child marriage in Bangladesh is a long road ahead, but every step taken, every voice raised, is a step towards a brighter future for countless girls. It's a fight not just for legal rights, but for the stolen dreams and shattered lives – a fight Bangladesh must win for the sake of its daughters and the nation's future.

Child marriage traps millions of girls in Bangladesh in a cycle of poverty. This heartbreaking practice steals girls' childhoods and limits their opportunities. Let's fight for a brighter future for Bangladesh's daughters by enforcing laws, educating girls, and empowering communities.

Writer: Moriom Akter, A Student and Journalist.