Premature marriage can be defined as “any marriage carried out below the age of 18 years, before the girl is physically, physiologically and psychologically ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing” . Bangladesh has one of the world’s highest rates of early marriage. According to UNICEF figures, 66% of Bangladeshi girls are marriage before the age of 18 and approximately a third of women aged 20 to 24 were married by the age of 15 . Root Causes
The reasons behind the elevated rate of early marriage stem from traditional Bangladeshi customs and moral codes. In Bangladesh, a patriarchal, unequal society prevails. On top of this, poverty is a major underpinning factor encouraging early marriage. Young girls are often considered as an economic burden by their families and their marriage to an older man and into another family is often a family survival strategy in order to obtain financial security. Additionally, parents are attracted by the prospect of lower dowry payments if they marry their daughters off at an early age. Another root cause of early marriage in Bangladesh is the fear of sexual harassment of young daughters. Early marriage is seen as a way to “protect” a girl’s sexuality in an unsafe environment. Consequences
Early marriage is known to have dangerous consequences for the health and development of girls. Primarily, girls that marry young experience intense pressure to become pregnant. For example, in Bangladesh an estimated third of all teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are mothers or pregnant . Early pregnancy is known to involve considerable health risks. Firstly, for younger mothers who are still in the process of maturation, maternal mortality rates are much higher. Teenage mothers are twice as likely as older mothers to die during childbirth . Secondly, for babies born to mothers younger than 14, it is 50% more likely for the baby to die than if born to a mother over 20 years of age ....
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