[16 September 2014] -
The draft got the cabinet’s approval in its regular meeting held at the Secretariat, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in chair
The cabinet yesterday approved the drafts of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2014, a law intended to choke off the high rate of child marriage in Bangladesh, keeping the provision of maximum two years in prison and Tk50,000 as penalty.
The draft got the cabinet’s approval in its regular meeting held at the Secretariat, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in chair.
“The draft of the Child Marriage Restraint Act has been finalised with the provision of a maximum two-year jail sentence and Tk50,000 fine for the violation of the law,” said Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, addressing reporters after the meeting.
“It will be sent to the Law Ministry for vetting. The observations of cabinet will be incorporated in the final draft. After getting the Law Ministry’s review, it will be tabled in the cabinet meeting again for final approval,” he added.
According to the proposed law, anyone under 18 years of age will be considered a child, while a male under 21 years of age and a female under 18 years will be considered as minors.
It stipulates that a marriage between two minors or between a minor and an adult will be considered a child marriage.
The cabinet secretary said the cabinet had suggested the ministry to change the age limit of minors. It will be changed in the final draft after consulting with the stakeholders.
After the meeting, State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki told reporters at her office that anyone under 18 years would be considered as a child, but a male under 18 years and a female under 16 years will be considered as minor in the final draft.
“The cabinet instructed the officials concerned to amend the draft incorporating the observation. It will be done before forwarding the draft to the Law Ministry,” she said.
According to the draft act, the offence also carries a minimum sentence of six months, or Tk10,000 fine, or both for the violation of the law. The male offenders will be punished with both the sentence and the fine, while the female offenders will be charged with the fine only, the cabinet secretary added.
The family court will have the authority to cancel the marriage, in case of necessity, it said.
Earlier, the Women and Children Affairs Ministry prepared the draft after consulting with all stakeholders concerned.
The Child Marriage Restraint Act 2014, drawn up by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, comes after a Unicef report found that 74% of Bangladeshi girls under 18 years and an alarming 39% of girls under 15 years had been married off.
Bangladesh has one of the highest numbers of under-15 child marriages in the world, according to the report published in July this year.