Dhaka – Bangladesh on Monday passed a law with a provision that allows marriage of both underage boys and girls “in special circumstance”.
The law styled Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2017 was passed by voice vote in Parliament, however, proposes higher punishment for child marriage in general cases to replace the age old Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929.
Civil society actors have been opposing the special provision of underage marriage since such marriage is still a threat for Bangladesh.
State Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs Meher Afroze moved the bill in the House that says any male under 21 years of age or any female under 18 will be considered underage.
But the special provision was justified saying if any marriage takes place in line with the directives of a court and consent of the parents or guardians alongside specific process in special context for the best interest of an underage female, such marriage will not be considered an offence.
The child marriage cases will also be dealt under the Mobile Court Act of 2009 with the local government representatives, Executive Magistrate, Upazila Women Affairs Official, Upazila Social Service Officer, Upazila Primary or Secondary Education Officer, Officer-in-Charge of the police station concerned can take necessary measures to stop child.
Marrying any underage person for an adult woman or man will be punishable with maximum two years’ jail, maximum Tk 100,000 as fine or both while breaching of the ban on child marriage is punishable with maximum six months’ jail, Tk 10,000 fine or both.
Underage boy and girl will have to undergo a detention of 30 days or pay Tk 50,000 as fine or both in case of any child marriage.
Guardians, if they are associated with child marriage, the punishment is six months to two years’ jail or Tk 50,000 as fine or both while the punishment for officiating such child marriage is six months to two years’ jail, Tk 50,000 as fine or both.
License of a marriage registrar can be revoked for registering child marriage. He may be subject to maximum two years’ jail, Tk 50,000 as fine or both.
The bill would impose ban on child marriage and provide punishment for violation of the embargo and punishment for completing child marriage or conducting it, Meher Afroz said.