Only law can stop early marriage or not-Explain; the perspective of Bangladesh.

Only law can stop early marriage or not-Explain; the perspective of Bangladesh.


Early marriage is a global apprehension. It is quite common in the Asian countries. Early marriage is also a social disease in Bangladesh .According to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, the minimum legal age at Marriage is 18 years for females in Bangladesh. Statistics provided by Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey (BDHS-2005) show Bangladesh tops the world when it comes to early marriage. Early marriage is one of the reasons for increased populations in Bangladesh. There are many reasons for early marriage, but most vital reasons among them are: poverty, superstition and lack of awareness.

Although early marriage is prohibited legally, but occurrences of early marriage are still happening in rural areas of the country. There are laws against it in the country but they are not executed properly. So, early marriage is still taking place. This essay will be discussed that only law cannot stop early marriage, government and society have to play a vital role to prevent the early marriage in Bangladesh.


Child marriage is also symbolic of the levels of development of a region or country and is generally conducted between very young girls and older men. In many parts of the world early marriage is a gratification for overcoming the family’s financial and social needs.

a. Causes of early marriage:
Early marriage can arise due to a number of reasons such as these:

  • To raise the economic and social status
  • Religious hurdles and barriers
  • Gender bias promotes early marriage of girls
  • Lack of education
  • Myths and misconceptions about early marriage
  • Pressures from older members of the family and community
  • The view that early pregnancy leads to larger families and hence providing for heirs to the throne
  • Some communities regard their girl children as a burden and think of getting rid of them by marrying them off early in a male-controlled society

b. Harmful effects of early marriage:
Early marriage can cause severe problems like the following:

  • Psychological and emotional stress like forced sexual relations, refusal of freedom and personal development as household chores now become a priority.
  • Denial of personal development and education.
  • Maturity levels become an issue as the little girl is now expected to play the role of a mother.
  • Girl children undergo severe health problems like pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Girl brides are also involved in early childhood care.
  • Threat to contracting sexually transmitted diseases increases when girl children are exposed to such an environment.
  • As girl children are still vulnerable and submissive, they can be subject to the atrocities of domestic violence and abandonment.


c. Example:

Taslima Begum of Comilla was married off with a 22-year-old man at an age when she could not even utter the word ‘Kabul’ (accepted) to identify the marriage. Her grandmother who acted as proxy for her. When Taslima got adult, she refused to accept the marriage. She told her mother that she cannot accept a marriage which was arranged when she was only two years old.
Having failed to convince her, Taslima’s parents arranged her marriage somewhere else when she turned 20. Now 32, Taslima is blessed with two lovely kids and happy with her present husband.
In Bangladesh, child marriage is widespread, particularly in rural areas, although there is a law against it the underlying reasons are poverty and lack of awareness.Taslima says that it goes back to traditional idea that kids have to be married at an early age. Now time has changed. People do understand the damaging aspects of early marriage. Still, early marriage takes place in our society due to the emergence of new problems. Taslima’s husband Helal Uddin, who is three years older than her, agrees with his wife and says that in most cases, parents arrange the marriage of their children thinking little whether they are capable to take the responsibility of the families.

Healal’s mother Saleha Begum, however, does not agree with her son and daughter-in-law. She says that It’s better for the girls to get married at an early age when they look pretty and are obedient When girls get adult they become arrogant and they don’t want to carry out orders. Boys are also better off getting married early because they tend to be more attentive to earning only after marriage.

Appropriately, early marriage is taking place at random showing slight respect to the law. Human-rights protestors and social workers say that according to the law early marriage is a punishable offence, but it is not banned. Besides, people do not follow the law because there is hardly any campaign to make the people aware about it, let alone the solving social problems.


d. National laws and law enforcement against early marriage:

Early marriage is unlawful in the existing civil or common law in most countries of South Asia, but is widely disregarded by customary and religious laws and practice. This is found to be communal where marriages typically take place along with customary resources and remain mostly not registered. It has also been found that in most countries, minimum ages for marriage do exist but are often not enforced. Countries such as India have started a process of registering births and marriages but in remote areas these laws are constantly flaunted. In India and Sri Lanka, there exist both the civil and the particular law which means children under 18 can and do marry.


In Bangladesh, under the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929, the age for the girl is set at 18. Along with this act early marriage is punishable by law. This law, however, has little impact on the frequency of early marriage here. It is estimated that partial of women are below 18 when they marry. The situation is increased by the fact that most births go unregistered. The Law and Local Government Ministry is putting the representation of the new Birth and Death Registration Act 2004 in force since July 3. The Act requires birth certificate as proof of age for a number of essential services such as marriage registration, obtaining a passport, and enrollment in school.

At the grass roots level, newly formed ‘Gram Sarkars’ have been given the responsibility to prevent early marriage. Article 34 of the Children’s Act 1974 specifically stipulates the penalty to be imposed for cruelty to children.  The National Plan of action for Children, 2005-2010 has already been approved by the government and enactment of a ‘Children Ombudsman Act’ is under active consideration to help establish child rights. Although these are not directly bound for protection girls from early marriage, they are applicable in terms of unkindness and harm to girls.

e. Government and social activities against early marriage:

We should raise consciousness about the comprehensiveness of early marriage and seriously consider the latent problems it relates. Government should establish nonviolent places for girls to gather and socialize to upsurge access to economic skills and resources. Additionally, we should raise awareness of the health and rights implications of large spousal age differences and inter-generational sex. Efforts should be taken to support married teenage girls by decreasing their economic vulnerability, offering schooling, civic participation, and livelihoods opportunities, developing intervention.

1. Government Steps:

The government will take necessary steps to eliminate child marriage from the society with a bid to slash the maternal mortality rate in the country. The government of Bangladesh’s secondary school registration program requires parents to sign a statement of commitment not to marry their daughters until they reach age 18 and provides reparation for the loss of their daughter’s domestic and agricultural labor that is experienced because she is in school. Bangladesh’s school program also covers the cost of school fees and books for girls to remain in school.

2. Individual & organization:

To prevent child marriage a wide range of individuals and organizations, from community leaders to international bodies, must take action. We need to work together to stop early marriage. Also the government should make new laws to control it. We need to create awareness among people, particularly the poor. And also we should give our helping hands to them.


Inform parents and young people about the negative implications of child marriage so they can choose to prevent it. Education is key in this process. Persuading parents to keep their daughters in School is critical for the overall development of girls – and in the Postponement of marriage .We shall have to give priority to girls’ education.

3. Marriage should be registered:

Marriage registration is compulsory under Islamic law, or Sharia, and social law, which regulates the rights and responsibilities of a wife, husband and children. Marriage registration is mandatory in Bangladesh and every marriage should be registered because of some reason:

  • To obtain an official marriage document

Based on the law, the marriage certificate is an official document which permits the formation of a family by a man and a woman and sets forth certain responsibilities for both parties. Article 61 of the Civil Code states: “the marriage is recorded in the marriage certificate in three copies by the authorities, the original is maintained by the government institution and each party is granted a copy of this document. The marriage certificate is submitted to the records department after it

has been registered in the special offices.”

  • To establishment the rights and obligations of spouses and their children

A husband and a wife and their children have specific rights and obligations under the law. An official marriage document can assurance these rights and responsibilities. For instance alimony (including food, clothes, shelter and education for children) is a right of woman and children and the man is obligated to honor this right. In the event when a man refuses to pay alimony, the marriage certificate is proof for a woman that she is married to this man and a judge can then force the husband to pay for the unpaid alimony. Similarly, men can also avoid problems such as spousal confirmation or a child’s paternity by possessing an official marriage certificate.


4. Birth Certificate:

Birth Certificate should be issued because it will be the real certificate of the age. It will be Mandatory for Bangladesh that when a child born then his or her birth certificate has to be done.So,in future when there is a matter of marriage then no confusion will arise.

5. Educational and Behavioral Change Campaign in Bangladesh:

USAID has provided over $1.3 million in funding for a three year program in Bangladesh to help prevent violence against women and focuses on increasing understanding about the negative effects that violence; early marriage, dowry and polygamy have on the development process in Bangladesh. Educational and behavioral change campaigns as well as efforts to influence national policy will be part of the program.

6. Media:

Media (radio, television etc.) plays a vital role to broadcast different programs about the adverse effect of early marriages that rural people can understand this. Because, most of the rural people are illiterate. Media can convince them through different programs against early marriage.

7.  After marriage counseling:

For girls who are already married, services must be developed to counsel them on issues        ranging from abuse to reproduction. Girls aged 15 to 19 give birth to 15 million babies a year. Many of them do so without attending an ante-natal clinic or receiving the help of a professional midwife. These can have serious repercussions on the health of both mother and child.


I think that early marriage is one of the biggest problems that face Bangladesh. Thus, there is should be more efforts to from all members of the society and government to decrease this phenomenon. I believe that media is the only way to raise awareness and impact on people. I believe that the existing means of awareness, which may have more interest in community, is media such as radio and television. Therefore, media must include the large amount of awareness programs of early marriage and how to deal with this portent in order to reduce it disappears

The major reason of death is early marriage. Moreover, it causes lots of problems such as the large number of orphaned children. I hope that campaign awareness should reach various regions such as schools, shops and other places where youths congregate.

I think that the phenomenon of early marriage is due to the culture of the community and traditions which has been practiced from the past. It should be campaign awareness to educate people of the dangers of this phenomenon, which is dangerous one. Also, it increases the number of population. The only way that could help to decrease this phenomenon is media also to mosques.


In this rural public in Bangladesh 17% of all marriages are to girls who are under the age of 16 years. According to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, the minimum legal age at marriage is 18 years for females in Bangladesh.  18 is supposed to be as the minimum age at marriage in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, actions of lawbreakers, parents or spouses, is uncommon. One difficulty in application of the age of consent law is that in rural Bangladesh most marriages are unregistered. The situation is intensified by the fact that birth registration is so irregular that age at marriage may not be known. Laws should be enforced to discourage early marriage; however, legal actors alone are insufficient. Social programs may also be effective in discouraging early marriage.

Poverty is one of the most frequently cited factors behind child and early marriage in rural Bangladesh. Therefore, programs aimed at poverty improvement can incorporate disincentives for families to marry their daughters off at a young age. For example, a micro-finance program in India excludes parents who marry off their daughters before age. Such innovative strategies might also be effective for Bangladesh. All available tools should be used to create an environment where girls can wait until they are ready for marriage.

We need to work together to stop early marriage. Also the government should make new laws to control it. We need to create awareness among people, especially the poor. And also we should stretch our helping hands to them.


  1. Field E. Early Marriage and female schooling in Bangladesh. Harvard; Harvard University, 2005. (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation)



4. News Network-Magazine

5. Article: Early Marriage Has Harmful Effects on Women

Age at First Marriage and its Determinants in Bangladesh (Demogaphers’             Notebook)     By M. Nurul Islam and Ashraf U Ahmed *

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[1] Child marriages violate the rights of the child in many ways, but the most concerning violation is a girls right to consent, and this right is continually violated through the life of the marriage for most girls. How do we end this outdated practice that continues to violate the rights of girls across the globe? The causes and implications of child marriage, are complex and interconnected, thus there is no simple solution in eradicating child marriage. In order to end child marriage for good we must look at all the source reasons that people continue to practice child marriage; poverty, marginalization of girls, illiteracy, lack of education, poor health. To find an end to child marriage, States and the International Community, must ensure that families are educated about the true effects of child marriage, and see that sustainable solutions are put in place. Making education available for girls, seeing families have alternatives to paying debts, eliminating poverty, providing health education on HIV/AIDS and other diseases, are all needed to end the suffering of girls across the globe, and put child marriage in the past, where it belongs.

Links:UNICEF Child Marriage Statistics
Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages

[2] Only law cannot stop early marriage
newnation 2007-07-26

[3] [3] Early marriage and the SAARC Conventions

1. SAARC Convention on preventing and combating trafficking in women and  children for prostitution

Article 1(5)

5) “Persons subjected to trafficking” means women and children victimized or forced into prostitution by the traffickers by deception, threat, coercion, kidnapping, sale, fraudulent marriage, child marriage, or any other unlawful means;…

2. SAARC Convention on regional arrangements for the promotion of child welfare in South Asia

Article 4: “States Parties shall make civil registration of births, marriages and deaths, in an official registry, compulsory in order to facilitate the effective enforcement of national laws, including the minimum age for employment and marriage.”

Book:Early Marriage in South Asia

[4] 1. Governments and civil society organizations in many developing countries are already actively working to reduce child marriage by raising awareness of the adverse consequences of early marriage, presenting viable alternatives to it and advocating for the implementation of existing

laws prohibiting it.For instance, the government of Bangladesh’s secondary school enrollment program requires parents to sign a statement of commitment not to marry their daughters until they reach age 18and provides compensation for the loss of their daughter’s domestic and agricultural labor that is experienced because she is in school. Bangladesh’s school program also covers the cost of school fees and books for girls to remain in school. The results have led to a doubling of school enrollment between 1994 and 2001 and an increase in the girls’ age of marriage.

Amin, S. and G. Sedgh (1998). Incentive schemes for school attendance in rural Bangladesh. Policy Research Division Working Paper no. 106. New York: Population Council. Arends-Kuenning, M. and S. Amin (2000). “The effects of schooling incentive programs on household resource allocation in Bangladesh,” Policy Research Division Working Paper no. 133. New York: Population Council.

[5] Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development), is a nonpartisan organization with

An international mandate. It was created by Canada’s Parliament in 1988 to encourage and support the universal values of

Human rights and the promotion of democratic institutions and practices around the world. Since 2007, Rights & Democracy

Has been implementing the CIDA funded project A Measure of Equality for Afghan Women: Rights in Practice, in Afghanistan. As part of this project, this information document was published and distributed in six Afghan provinces, in Dari and Pashto, to support the use of the national marriage certificate.

6. Department of State. Poverty, Illiteracy, and Child Marriage: A U.S. Response, 2005: