Child & Early Marriage
Child & Early Marriage
Globally, one in five women are married before they turn 18 years old. A decade ago, the rate had been one in four. Poverty, ideas of family honor, social norms, customs and religious laws are factors that could force girls into child marriages. But the consequences can be devastating. Marriages can rob girls of their childhood, compromise their development and put them at risk of early and complicated pregnancies. They often pay a heavy price in not getting an education or access to proper health care and economic opportunities. Child marriage is a violation of human rights. It adversely affects education, health and well-being of girls and perpetuates cycles of poverty. Child brides experience the detrimental physical, psychological and social consequences of child marriage. This is a global phenomenon and a grave cause for concern.
Child marriage is a complex phenomenon related to various socio-economic factors, and is deeply rooted .Although Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, almost 1 in 4 Bangladeshis (24.3 percent of the population) still live in poverty and 12.9 percent of the population in extreme poverty. Poverty plays a huge role in child marriage. According to UNICEF, Bangladesh has the fourth highest prevalence rate of child marriage in the world. About 71 percent of rural girls get married before reaching 18 years of age, and that deprives them of their right to education.
UNICEF’s latest report shows environmental disasters are linked to climate change are threatening the lives of over 19 million children in Bangladesh—including prompting many families to push their daughters into early marriages. The other factors driving child marriage in Bangladesh includes cultural, lack of access to education, social pressure, harassment, dowry and insecurity. Our society still thinks girls are weak and incapable to work and earn an income and often consider them an economic burden.
Many girls themselves internalize the belief that they are simply a burden to their families and therefore want to get married young to help relieve their families. Then there is the fear of harassment which often leads to abuse and rape. According to police reports, last year there were 16,253 incidents of violence against women and children. In our society, if a girl has been raped or sexually abused in any way, it decreases her chances of getting married in the future. So many parents simply take their daughters out of school to protect them from abuse and ensure their viability as brides in the future. Demand for dowry also encourages child marriage because younger brides typically require smaller dowries. And failure to meet the demand of dowry often results in violence against the bride, after marriage. Child brides, even if they are not physically or emotionally ready, are often expected to bear children soon after marriage—which not only exposes a young girl to profound health risks from early pregnancy, but is considered one of the leading causes of higher maternal and infant mortality. Teenage mothers are twice as likely to die during childbirth and babies born to mothers under 14 are 50 percent more likely to die than those born to mothers aged over 20. Young brides not only bear children earlier, but have more children over their lifetime than women who marry after the age of 18. KM Trust has been involving families, communities and different social organisations to raise awareness about the harmful consequences of child marriage to change societal attitudes and reduce the acceptance among those who make the decision to marry off minor girls. We need to understand that exclusion of 50 percent of the population (women) from both the workplace and the market remains the greatest barrier to accelerating economic development. KM project is working towards creating awareness to prevent child and early marriage and encouraging continued education among rural girls.