Girls at risk as Bangladesh mulls lowering age of marriage, says HRW

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Millions of girls are at risk if the Bangladeshi government goes ahead with a proposal to lower the age of marriage to 16, Human Rights Watch warned on Monday.

The impoverished South Asian nation has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, despite a three-decade-old law which bans marriage for girls under the age of 18.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government was now considering an amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, which would also lower the age of marriage of men to 18 from 21.

“Setting the age of marriage for girls in Bangladesh at 16 would be a terrible step in the wrong direction,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, HRW’s women’s rights director. “The rate of child marriage in Bangladesh is already off the charts…

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