Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said there is nothing to be worried about the government's new law on child marriage.
"The law has been enacted taking the reality of our socio-economic and problems of families in rural areas into consideration," the premier said while replying to lawmakers’ queries in the parliament.
Lambasting those opposing incorporating the provision for special marriage in the Child Marriage Prevention Act 2016, the premier said, "They are far away from the reality. They never stayed in the village and don’t have any idea about the social system."
Pointing to a section of NGOs and individuals who are opposing the special provision of allowing the marriage of a girl under 18 years in special cases, she said, "A law can never be rigid, there must have an alternative in special cases particularly in the case of unexpected pregnancy of any girl under 18. Otherwise, it might be disastrous for the society."
In support of the special provision, Hasina, also the leader of the House, said, if abortion law was available in the country, then unexpected pregnancy of a girl aged 12 or 13 was not a problem.
“What would be the future of that girl and her illegal baby if she somehow cannot remove the unexpected child through abortion? The society will not accept them. The baby will not be able to get admit in any educational institutions. Nobody will give him a job.”
The government has been making relentless efforts to make people aware of child marriage, the prime minister said adding that those who are opposing the special provision, do not consider this reality.
Different rights, civil society organisations, women leaders, and Human Rights Watch urged the government to scrap the new draft law that puts girls at greater risk of child marriage in the country.
The current law permits marriage after the age of 18 for women and 21 for men, with no exceptions.
However, the draft ‘Prohibition of Child Marriage Act - 2016’ approved by the cabinet recently says child marriage below age 18 will be permitted in special circumstances, such “as accidental or unlawful pregnancy.”
The draft does not set any minimum age for such “exceptional” marriages.
PM ON ROHINGYA
Alleging that thousands of innocent women and children are suffering due to the criminals activities by some perpetrators, the PM said the current spell of crisis ensued in Myanmar after some criminals attacked the Myanmar Army and policemen.
On the influx of Rohingya refugees, she said, Bangladesh cannot allow ‘waves of Myanmar citizens” fleeing from their country and sneaking into Bangladesh.
“We are providing shelter, food, medicine to them on humanitarian ground. But cannot allow waves of them by opening doors as we are an independent and sovereign country,” Hasina said.