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    » 10/14/2014, 00.00

    BANGLADESH

    Proposed law on "child brides" bows to conservative Islam

    Sumon Corraya

    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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    See also

    26/08/2008 SAUDI ARABIA
    Riyadh, marriage of young girls condemned
    The Saudi Human Rights Commission is calling for a "clear and unambiguous position" from the government on these marriages, which "violate human rights by depriving a girl of her childhood". The Grand Mufti has also spoken out against those who force their daughters to marry against their will, or give them to elderly men.

    23/03/2010 YEMEN
    Yemenis take to the streets against law fixing the minimum age for marriage
    The rule prohibits marriage for girls under 17 and boys under 18. In the country the magnitude of "child brides", girls of 8 or 9 given in marriage, usually for economic reasons, to old men.

    22/11/2013 NEPAL
    Nepal, civil society and religions against kidnapping of child brides
    In the western districts forced marriages are still widespread: During special "festivals", young men choose the most beautiful girls and kidnap them, forcing them to marry. In Nepal, this practice is illegal, but the silence of the people prolongs this tradition. Girls as young as 11 among victims.

    26/02/2009 SRI LANKA
    President Rajapaksa launches campaign against use of child soldiers
    The government and Tamil rebels are accusing each other of enlisting minors. The Catholic Church and civil society assert that 60% of the combatants for both factions are children with an average age of 16.

    30/08/2004 CAMBODIA
    Trafficking in children for would-be foreign parents




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