Skip to content

Ending child marriage can help Bangladesh recover from Covid-19

Emily Prey

Share this article

Get this article: Download

Last month, the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy in Washington, DC published a new report on how the US can address the global problem of child marriage. Child marriage not only harms the children involved, but also impedes the country’s growth and development. These types of marriages violate children’s human rights, decrease economic potential, and induce multi-generational poverty, as children are prematurely forced into adulthood. 

An understanding of how child marriage is connected to GDP rates, development, and worrisome demographic trends around the world is required to give Bangladeshi policy-makers the necessary context and urgency to establish and enact child marriage laws that protect children.

Bangladesh ranks among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest levels of child marriage — 51% of Bangladeshi women aged 20-24 were married before their 18th birthday. Though Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on the country. In the last year, Bangladesh lost many of its hard-won gains in its fight against poverty and saw its GDP growth slump. It remains to be seen what the long-term implications of the pandemic will be on Bangladesh’s economy, but one way it can continue its progress towards upper-middle income status is through eliminating child marriage.

Child marriage is a human rights violation and a form of gender-based violence. It disrupts normal growth patterns by moving children directly into adulthood before they are ready. Each day, tens of thousands of girls around the world are married before they are physically or emotionally ready to become wives and mothers. Child brides have a greater risk of experiencing intimate partner violence, living in poverty, having poor health outcomes, having more children and having children at earlier ages, and dropping out of school than their peers who marry at a later age. 

Read more in the Dhaka Tribune.