According to Plan International, an agency that works for children’s rights, Bangladesh still has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 20 percent of females becoming brides before their 15th birthday. UNICEF estimates that about 66 percent of the country’s adult women were married before they were 18.
In most cases, parents say they know it is illegal but they are forced to do it because of poverty and worries over their daughters’ future security. There is also the concept that rural girls are considered a burden in many families because they rarely bring in a regular income.
Over the last decade, the government and agencies such as UNICEF have waged war on the practice, demanding stricter enforcement of an existing law – passed as long ago as 1929 – that makes child marriage a criminal offense.
Despite these efforts, recurring reports from the media and international agencies claim that child marriage is still very much a reality.