August 09, 2017

Watch these powerful anti-child marriage videos from Bangladesh

One film shows a father trying to take his daughter from school to arrange her marriage

New films are sending out the message that underage girls should never be forced by their families to wed and give up their education.

Huge numbers of girls in Bangladesh are married before they are 18. Various organisations have different statistics - Human Rights Watch puts it at 43% but Girls Not Brides Bangladesh says the true figure is 52%.

What is certain is that, despite it being illegal, the South Asian country has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world.

To help combat that, two powerful videos are sending out the message that underage girls should never be forced by their families to wed.

Child marriage exposes girls to abuse, early pregnancy, health problems and often stops them from getting an education.

In both of the films, people protesting against child marriage start to sound out a beat. The videos end with the message: “Raise your voice to the beat. Put an end to child marriage.”

They were launched a few days ago - along with a helpline - by Bangladesh's Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and were made with support from UNICEF, UNFPA and the Canadian government.

The child marriage rate has dropped in recent years, especially in the under-15 age group. 

But in March child rights groups condemned a new Bangladeshi law that lets underage girls marry their rapists for "the greater good of the adolescent".

Girls Not Brides Bangladesh, an alliance of charities, said: "We are concerned that this new act could lead to widespread abuse, legitimise statutory rape, allow parents to force their girls to marry their rapists and further encourage the practice of child marriage in a country with one of the highest child marriage rates in the world."

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