Girls' marriage age remains at 18

Girls’ marriage age remains at 18


The Cabinet on Thursday approved the draft of the ‘Child Marriage Restraint Bill, 2016’ keeping girls’ minimum age for marriage at 18 alongside a provision of tougher punishment for violation of the law.The approval came at the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at the Prime Minister’s Office with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.Briefing reporters after the meeting at the Cabinet Division of Bangladesh Secretariat, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said the new law has been drafted in Bangla reorganising the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929.According to section 2 of the proposed law, he said, any male who is yet to complete 21 years or any female who is yet to complete 18 years will be considered underage for getting married.

When one or both are underage, this will be defined as ‘child marriage’.Shafiul said in case of any special case as per section 19 of the proposed law, for serving utmost interest of any underage female, if any marriage occurs in line with the directives of a court as well as consent of the guardians alongside specific process, such marriage would not be considered as offense. “There’ll be no crime in such special case if the age of female is below 18 years,” he said.He said the court can stop any child marriage while the punishment for breaching the ban on child marriage is maximum six months’ imprisonment, maximum Tk 10,000 as fine or both.The Cabinet secretary said the punishment of marrying any underage girl is maximum two years’ jail, maximum Tk 100,000 as fine or both.For any false allegation of child marriage, the punishment is maximum six months’ jail, Tk 30,000 as fine or both while court with its own initiative or subject to the petition of anyone can impose ban on any child marriage or stop that. The court can also withdraw its order or ban if it is deemed unnecessary or following appeal of the accused.Shafiul said as per section 7(2) of the proposed law, underage boy and girl will have to undergo a detention of 15 days or pay Tk 5,000 as fine in case of any child marriage.He said if the guardians concerned or others are associated with any child marriage, the punishment is maximum two years’ jail, Tk 50,000 as fine or both while the punishment for conducting such child marriage (for Kazi) is maximum two years’ jail, Tk 50,000 as fine or both.Besides, the licence of a marriage registrar can also be revoked for registering such child marriage alongside maximum two years’ jail, Tk 50,000 as fine or both.Birth certificates, national identity cards, passports and certificates of different academic examinations like PEC and equivalent exams, JSC and equivalent exams, and SSC and equivalent exams will be considered as legal documents for verifying the age for getting married.The trial for such offenses will be held under the criminal procedure while a provision has been kept for in-field investigation and conducting mobile court drives.The Cabinet also approved the draft of the ‘Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute Bill, 2016’.The Cabinet sent back the draft of the ‘Civil Servants Bill, 2016’ and asked the Public Administration Ministry to resubmit it after further scrutiny.The meeting also approved the list of government holidays for 2017 with a total of 22 holidays, including 14 general ones, eight with executive order alongside three optional holidays.Besides, the Cabinet approved a proposal for ratifying the ‘Agreement between Bangladesh and Russian Federation on visa-free visit for persons holding diplomatic and official (service) passports’.At the very outset of the meeting, the Cabinet adopted a felicitation motion congratulating Saima Wazed Hossain Putul as she was ​​elected Chairperson of the International Jury Board of UNESCO-Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.Besides, State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak handed over the ASOCIO ICT Award 2016 to the Prime Minister.The ICT Division got the award in digital government category during the ASOCIO ICT Summit held at Yangon on November 14-16 by the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organization.Ministers and state ministers attended, and secretaries concerned were present.


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