Child Marriage in Bangladesh
It should be happiest day of her life, but 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter couldn’t look more miserable. For the teenager isn’t getting ready for a birthday party or another big celebration – she is being forced into marriage to a 32-year-old man.
As the above image shows, the Bangladeshi schoolgirl appears forlorn and, at times, even scared as she gets ready for the ceremony in Manikganj, near the capital Dhaka. Sadly, Nasoin is by no means alone in a country which has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report that revealed how 29 per cent of girls are married before the age of 15 and 65 per cent by the time they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl can be extremely damaging.
Research from Girls Not Brides shows most young brides drop out of school and that girls who fall pregnant from 15 to 20 years old are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older. Girls under 15 are at five times the risk.
The age difference between spouses can also a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Cultural tradition and poverty are the main reasons for child marriages. Larger dowries are not required for young girls and, economically, women’s earnings are insignificant as compared to men’s. Parents also believe that it protects girls from sexual assault and harassment.
One state in the U.S. has a Bangladeshi-style rule…a woman can get married as young as 12 years old with her parents’ consent in South Carolina.