Child marriage is a strong social custom, particularly for girls in Bangladesh. There are many reasons for child marriage. But most vital reasons among them are poverty, superstition, lack of social security and lack of awareness. According to UNICEF report, ‘the State of the World’s Children, 2009’, “Early marriage is pervasive in Bangladesh, with 64 percent of girls married before age 18. Early pregnancy often results from child marriage; one-third of girls aged 15 to 19 in Bangladesh are currently either mothers or pregnant.” Although child marriage is prohibited legally, but occurrences of child marriage are still happening in rural areas of Bangladesh. According to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 years for females in Bangladesh. Along with this Act child marriage is punishable by law. The right to free and full consent to a marriage is recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and in many subsequent human rights instruments – consent that cannot be ‘free and full’ when at least one partner is very immature. Bangladesh also acceded to the UN Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages on 5 October, 1998. These laws, however, have little impact on the frequency of child marriage in Bangladesh. Laws should be enforced to discourage child marriage; however, legal actors alone are insufficient. Social awareness programmes may also be effective in deterring child marriage. To prevent child marriage, a wide range of individuals and organizations need to create awareness among people, particularly the poor. Especially, parents and government can play main role in reducing child marriage. An environment should be ensured where children get proper care and facility to grow up completely and properly. This paper attempts to present the socio-economic and physical consequences of girl child marriage and its legal protection with awareness level of parents in rural Bangladesh.
Key words: Child marriage, consequence, law, awareness.