Child marriage slowly declining: Survey

About 29pc (2m) of young women in Bangladesh aged 20-24 years were married or entered into unions before the age of 15 years and 65pc (4.5m) before the age of 18 years as of 2011 UNB

Although the prevalence of child marriage still continues to be very high in Bangladesh it is on a downward trend since its rates among females before the age of 15 and 18 years have declined to 18 percent and 52 per cent respectively, reports UNB.
The rates were 38 percent and 65 percent respectively in 2000 revealing a significant reduction of 9 percentage points in women who married before the age of 15, as per the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2000, 2011 and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2012-13.
This was revealed when Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and UNICEF Bangladesh launched three policy briefs on child marriage, child labour and out-of-school children in Bangladesh under a tripartite agreement at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) yesterday.
The policy brief titled ‘towards ending child marriage in Bangladesh’ showed that about 29 percent (2 million) of young women in Bangladesh aged 20-24 years were married or entered into unions before the age of 15 years and 65 percent (4.5 million) before the age of 18 years as of 2011.
It showed that among all districts, Meherpur had the highest incidence of teenage marriage (53.7 percent) whereas Sylhet district had the lowest (13.5 percent). Among the administrative Divisions, the highest incidence of teenage marriage was in Rajshahi (43 percent) and the lowest in Sylhet Division (16 percent).
These briefs are part of an effort to produce a series of knowledge products on key issues affecting the wellbeing of children in the county and proposing social policies to address their root causes and consequences.
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal spoke on the occasion as the Chief Guest while State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroze Chumki as the Special Guest.
Rasheda K. Choudhury, Executive Director, Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) and the Former Advisor to the Interim Caretaker Government, Sarah Cooke, Country Representative, DFID Bangladesh, Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Bangladesh Representative also spoke on the occasion while Statistics and Informatics Division Secretary Kaniz Fatema chaired the function.
The policy brief titled ‘Ending child labour in Bangladesh’ showed that disparities exist between administrative divisions and districts as Dhaka and Sylhet divisions have the highest proportion of child workers, at 8 percent and 7.5 percent respectively and Khulna has the lowest at 3.7 percent.
It is worth noting that a 2009 estimate by the International Labour Organisation, UNICEF and the World Bank found that five million children aged 5-17 years were engaged in child labour, including two million in hazardous labour The policy brief headlined ‘Out-of-school children in Bangladesh’ highlighted that more than four million children aged 6-10 years, representing about one-fifth of the children in this age group, are out of school in Bangladesh. Among these, about 2 million (11 percent of this age group) have never been to school.
Out-of-school children were found in almost all districts of the country, with the highest concentration in Bandarban, Sunamganj, Bhola, Netrokona and Cox’s Bazar and the lowest in Jhalokati, Barguna, Pirojpur, Feni and Jessore districts.
Speaking on the occasion as the chief guest, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said that child marriage, child labour and drop out of
children from school is a disease for the society adding that no citizen in a civilized country could accept this.
Mustafa Kamal, commonly known as Lotus Kamal, underscored the need for addressing these issues at macro level adding, “We must build a total awareness Programme across the country on these issues,”
State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroze Chumki reiterated that the government decision is that there would be no marriage before the age of 18.
Speaking on the occasion as the guest of honour, Executive Director for Campaign for Popular Education (Campe) Rasheda K Chowdhury said that the child marriage is declining while the drop out rate among the children is reducing.
The policy briefs suggested a number of recommendations which includes monitoring and increasing education and social protection budgets; improving and extending a social protection system that is sensitive to family poverty and the needs of children; ensuring all girls attend school and complete secondary education.