By Taj Hashmi
A recent move by the Government to allow child marriage is tantamount to excluding many Bangladeshis from the benefits of growth and development. Women are likely to become the main victims of the recently enacted Child Marriage Restraint Act-2017. It allows a Bangladeshi boy or girl to get married before reaching the minimum age limit – 18 for women and 21 for men – as stipulated by an act in colonial India. What the Parliament enacted on February 27th – paradoxically, in the name of restraining child marriage – signalled an obvious departure from the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929, and its modified version, the “Sharda Act” of 1930, which fixed the minimum age of marriage for girls at 18, and for boys at 21.
While the justifications for the Act are phony, fallacious, and at best speculative, it’s in fact a regression therapy, a means of escaping certain anxieties. Even worse, it’s a childish attempt to appease people who promote patriarchy and misogyny. They not only include obscurantist Islamic and Islamist forces, but also some so-called progressive elements in society.