THE efforts of Bangladesh government aimed at reducing child marriages have been widely acclaimed. But we still have a long way to go to completely eliminate incidents of child marriage. Bangladesh is one of the countries with the highest observed rates of child marriages below the age of 18 along with Niger, Chad, Mali, Guinea and the Central African Republic, with a rate above 60 per cent. According to Bangladesh law, the minimum age of marriage is 21 for boys and 18 for girls. The country has been tackling this problem well and it is hoped that very soon child marriage will be completely eradicated.
With fast spreading mass education, early marriages have already come down significantly and we need to accelerate our efforts so that we can achieve complete success. Early marriage is a social curse which hampers healthy growth of girls as they become mothers at an early age and children born to these mothers suffer from different complications. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth also lead to premature deaths of adolescent girls below age 19. More importantly, early marriage robs girls of the opportunity of becoming a healthy and independent adult. When a girl gets married at an early age she cannot complete her education and grows up as an illiterate mother. The government initiatives for prevention of child marriages are praiseworthy, but we need to provide more opportunities for our girl children so that they too can become worthy citizens of the country.
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