First child marriage under special provision of new law held in Bangladesh
The first child marriage under the special provision of the new law has been held with the consent of the two families at a court acquitting the groom of charges of raping the bride.
The members of the two families were present when the marriage was administered by a Qazi at a court in Chittagong on Thursday.
The court then acquitted the accused person, Golam Mostafa, 25, of the charges and ordered to release him.
Additional Public Prosecutor MA Faiz told bdnews24.com that the underage girl, a daughter of a rickshaw-puller, developed a relationship with Mostafa and became pregnant at one stage.
“When Mostafa denied her marriage proposal, the girl filed a rape case against him. He later agreed to marry her,” Faiz said.
When the bride gave birth to a baby girl, both the families agreed to marry them off. The couple is from Navy Motin’s Colony at Beltali Ghona of the port city.The bride was 13 years and eight months old when she proposed Mostafa to marry her on Oct 20, 2014, according to the case dossier.
She filed the case on May 25, 2015, at Akbar Shah Police Station against Mostafa on charges of raping her by promising to marry her.
Police arrested Mostafa the following day, and the Chittagong Women and Child Repression Prevention Tribunal-3 sent him to jail.
On Jan 8 this year, the girl submitted an affidavit proposing an agreement, on which the marriage was administered at a bride price of Tk 300,000 on Thursday.
Her 16-month old baby girl was with her at the time.
Nazrul Islam Sentu, who stood for the State during the hearings, told bdnews24.com: “We have to consider humanitarian issues sometimes.”
In the new law, marriageable age for women is 18, but they would be allowed to get married below that age in ‘exceptional circumstances’. The rights groups are saying that ‘special provision’ will be abused and child marriage will go up.
The ‘special circumstances’ and the minimum age applicable under the ‘special provision’ have not been specified in the law.
State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki had earlier said the explanation of the ‘special circumstances’ would be cleared in the by-laws of the act to be passed later. The confusion over the law would go away then, she claimed.
Officials said that only the court would have the discretion to apply ‘special provision’ reducing the chance of misusing the provision.