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Rights groups: proposed Bangladesh law will fail to prevent child marriage

[JURIST] A proposed revision to the Child Marriage Restraint Act [text] in Bangladesh [website, in Bengali] includes a provision that will allow for girls under the age of 18 to marry in "special cases," according [report] to Girls Not Brides [advocacy website], a global partnership of over 650 civil society organizations. The current version of the law, enacted in 1929, outlaws marriage for girls under the age of 18 and boys under the age of 21. Many critics say the law is poorly enforced, and the South Asia country currently has the highest rate of marriage involving girls under 15 in the world, according [report, PDF] to a UNICEF [official website] study. The proposed revision to the law would increase penalties for child marriage, a move that is welcomed by rights groups, but it would also allow for girls to marry in "special cases," such as pregnancy.

In recent years, the practice of child marriage has been criticized in many areas of the world. Last July officials in Gambia and Tanzania banned the practice of child marriage [JURIST report]. In November the Guatemalan Congress approved legislation [JURIST report] to raise to legal age for marriage to 18. In April of last year Malawi raised the minimum marriage age to 18 [JURIST report] for both boys and girls. The move came after Human Rights Watch called on Malawi to end the practice, [JURIST report] detailing how child marriage exposes girls to domestic and sexual violence. In 2014 Bangladeshi officials approved [JURIST report] the Child Marriage Prevention Act of 2014, requiring a two-year jail term for any person who marries a girl under the age of 18.

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