The new legislation includes a provision allowing child marriage in 'special cases', such as if a girl becomes pregnant accidentally or illegally, when a marriage will be allowed to protect her honour.
The approval of the much-talked-about draft ‘Child Marriage Restraint Act 2016′ was made in the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office on Thursday afternoon.
“The draft has been approved with a goal to reduce the high rate of child marriage in Bangladesh,” Cabinet Secretary Shafiul Alam told reporters at the Bangladesh Secretariat after the meeting.
“In case of violation, the provision has a maximum penalty of Tk100,000 along with two years’ imprisonment,” he said.
According to the proposed law, anyone under 18 years of age in general will be considered a child; but in cases of marriage, any male under the age of 21 and female under the age of 18 will be considered minors.
It also stipulates that a marriage between two minors or between a minor and an adult will be considered a child marriage.
The cabinet secretary said: “No matter what other provisions of the law say, a minor will be allowed to marry in special cases for the sake of honour – in case of a girl getting accidentally or illegally pregnant – with approval from a court and and agreement between the parents.”
Shafiul Alam said the age of a person will be fixed consulting his/her birth certificate, National ID, passport or certificate of any public examinations including the PSC and JSC.
According to the law, the court will impose a ban on any marriage if anyone claims it as child marriage. The court might reject the ban also.
If anyone violates the ban, he or she will face six months’ imprisonment and Tk10,000 fine or both as punishment.
If the claim is proved false, punishment is maximum six months’ imprisonment and at least Tk30,000 fine or both.
Minors who marry will face maximum 15 days’ imprisonment or Tk5,000 fine.
Any adult male or female will face a maximum penalty of Tk100,000 fine along with two years of imprisonment or both if he or she marries any minor.
If parents are found involved in organising child marriage, they will be punished with maximum six months’ imprisonment and at least Tk50,000 fine or both. If the parents are not capable of paying the fine, the jail term will be increased for more three months.
If a child marriage is registered, the licence of the marriage conductor will be cancelled.