» 10/14/2014, 00.00
Proposed law on "child brides" bows to conservative Islam
The government wants to lower the minimum age for marriage: from 18 to 16 years for women, from 21 to 18 for men. Even today, 80% of girls are married before reaching the adulthood.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - The Bangladeshi government is "considering"
lowering the minimum age for marriage (16 years for women, 18 for men), to
please conservative Islam. In a country where 80% of girls are already married long
before they reach adulthood, according to human rights activists and social
scientists, this decision would be "dangerous" because it seems to "let
go the idea that phenomena such as child brides is acceptable" because "acknowledged"
by the state.
The current law sets the minimum age at 18 years for women and 21 for men and
has always been considered a tool to change the prevailing mentality. Under shari'a,
Islam - which in Bangladesh is the state religion, practiced by 89.9% of the
population - a girl can get married as soon as reaches puberty.
The proposed change has caused a sensation among the more "independent"
newspapers, particularly because it is being out forward by the government, led
by the Awami League : historically this was a secular party, whose founder Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman, led the nation to independence from Pakistan (1971). Some newspapers
have also conducted a "campaign" against this proposal, bringing the
testimonies of students and young people who had defended their classmates when
they were in danger of being given too soon in marriage.
The AL could be attempting to "appease" the more "conservative"
Islamic component for the population, which - in the last year and a half - the
radical Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami has repeatedly appealed to, labeling the
government "atheistic" and contrary to the true principles of Islam. This
is also why, according to some commentators note, the government recently
decided to declare Ramadan a public holiday.
The Catholic activist Rosaline Costa, told AsiaNews that in addition to further
victimizing young girls "the reduction of the minimum age for marriage will
increase the rate of maternal mortality across the country."
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