UNICEF Bangladesh - The children - Early marriage

The children


Early Years

Primary school years


Child Rights


Early marriage

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2008/Kiron
When Pinky’s parents arranged a marriage, she protested and the marriage did not go ahead. Pinky continues to attend secondary school in Rajshahi division.

The eradication of child marriage is slowly occurring however, the rates are still high with 66 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18.  Over one third of girls are married before the age of 15. Legally, the minimum age of marriage is 21 for boys and 18 for girls.

Although illegal, the practise of dowry – requiring a bride’s family to pay significant sums to the groom – encourages the marriage of the youngest adolescent girls because younger brides typically require smaller dowries. Dowry demands can continue after the wedding and sometimes result in violence against the bride when families are unable to pay.

School and work
Early marriage causes girls to drop out of education and limits their opportunities for social interaction. Only 45 per cent of adolescent girls are enrolled in secondary school and even fewer attend regularly. New brides are expected to work in their husbands’ households and are subject to the same hazards as child domestic workers.

Health risks
Early marriage leads to early pregnancy. One third of teenage girls aged 15 to 19 are mothers or are already pregnant. Adolescent mothers are more likely to suffer from birthing complications thean adult womean.

Read about UNICEF and adolescent empowerment.



 Email this article

For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection