Bangladesh ranks 111 among 144 in girls’ opportunity index

Bangladesh ranks 111 among 144 in girls’ opportunity index

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Dhaka – Bangladesh has been placed at 111 on the Girls’ Opportunity Index, a report published by Save the Children.
The report has ranked 144 countries according to opportunities provided to ensure development of girls.Bangladesh has been placed in the lowest strata alongside Afghanistan.
‘Child marriage’ has been identified as the biggest obstacle to girls’ development.
The report, published on Monday, says that one girl under the age of 15 is married every seven seconds.
Girls in Niger happen to face the biggest struggles, according to the index while Sweden provides their girls with the best opportunities.
Save the Children prepared the 40-page report after spending a year collecting data from 144 countries.
Child marriage, education, teenage pregnancy, maternal deaths and number of female representatives in national government are the five indicators used to rank a country in this index.
Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles says that a third of Bangladeshi girls are married off before they are 18.
She told Newsweek that child marriage starts a cycle of disadvantage that denies girls the opportunity to learn, develop and enjoy childhood.
“Forcing girls to marry too early often means they can’t attend school, and are more likely to face domestic violence, abuse and rape. They get pregnant and bear children before they’re physically and emotionally ready, which can have devastating consequences on their health and that of their baby’s health,” she said.
“I’ve just been to Bangladesh where a third of these girls are married before they’re 18. It really struck me that for many countries this isn’t a policy issue, it’s an issue of culture and behaviour.”
Girls’ Opportunity Index
On top:1. Sweden, 2. Finland, 3. Norway, 4. Netherlands, 5. Belgium, 6. Denmark, 7. Slovenia, 8. Portugal, 9. Switzerland, 10. Italy.
At bottom: 135. Ivory Coast, 136. Nigeria, 137. Guinea, 138. Malawi, 139. Sierra Leone, 140. Somalia, 141. Mali, 142. Central African Republican, 143. Shad, 144. Niger.
European countries topped the Index while the countries at the bottom of the index are all low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Female children were found at their best in Maldives among the SAARC countries. The country is ranked 50.
Sri Lanka came at 60, Bhutan 80, Nepal 85, Pakistan 88, India 90 and Afghanistan at 121.
The report says that the rate of child marriage is 76 percent in Niger where one among every five teenagers becomes pregnant.
According to a BRAC research, the rate of child marriage in Bangladesh is 65 percent which is highest among South Asia and fourth highest in the world.
Two brides among every three in Bangladesh are aged under 18. Eighty percent of these marriages take place in poverty-stricken families.
A 2013 proposal on reducing minimum age of marriage for girls to 16 from 18 triggered immense criticism in Bangladesh.
The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs prepared a draft act last year with a clause that suggests cutting down the minimum age of marriage to 16 for girls in “special cases”.
State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroze Chumki had said at that time that “government is considering fixing minimum age of marriage to 16 in cases where the girl elopes and refuses to return or gets pregnant before marriage”.
In April this year, two MPs opposed the idea, stating that no clause can justify such proposals. – Agencies

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