Today is the first anniversary of the Girl Summit, which is being marked by an event at Canada House, hosted by DFID and Plan International.
One year ago at the Summit, along with an impassioned speech from DFID’s Justine Greening, David Cameron and Bangladesh Prime minister Sheikh Hasina pledged to end child marriage under the age of 15 in Bangladesh by 2021, and end all child marriage under 18 by 2041. It was an ambitious statement, as currently Bangladesh has the world’s highest rate of child marriage.
However when Sheikh Hasina returned, her government drafted a new law proposing to lower the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 16. Girls may need parental permission to marry at 16 but as most marriages in Bangladesh are arranged by parents, this makes little difference. This backward step conflicts not only with Bangladesh's commitments at the Girl Summit, but also with international law.
Heather Barr from Human Rights Watch describes how ““The Bangladesh government’s inaction on child marriage is causing devastating harm to one of the country’s greatest assets – its young women. The government—and its donors—should do more to keep girls in school, assist girls at risk of child marriage, fight sexual harassment, and provide access to reproductive health information and contraceptive supplies. Most importantly, the government should enforce its own law against child marriage.”
Children on the Edge supports Learning Centres for Working Children in Bangladesh, which not only provide an education which would otherwise be impossible, but works with the local community and parents to reduce the rate of child marriage.
You can support this project by donating, and if you want to make a difference in the political scene, giving a voice to these girls, we’d suggest the following: