Although child marriages is illegal there is an increase in the practice in some developing countries. Bangladesh for instance has the fourth highest rates of child marriages in the world. Young girls are married by the time they hit puberty and usually move in with their husbands right away.
Most child brides become mothers while they are still children themselves. Because their bodies are not yet fully developed they are at risk for prolonged or obstructed labor which threatens both the life of the child and the mother.
Like India one of the main reasons behind child marriages in Bangladesh is poverty and girls from poor families are more likely to become child brides. The illegal dory system is also a contributor. Younger brides often require smaller dowries so parents marry off their girls at a young to avoid paying a high dowry which most of them cannot afford.
These girls are denied a proper education. They suffer from poor health, give birth to children who are weak and malnourished and raise them in poverty. Later on some of these same mothers will force their daughters into early marriage and the vicious cycle continues.
Some parents marry off their daughters because they feel they will be safe under the protection of their husbands. However in many instances these girls are abused by their husbands, sexually,physically, and emotionally. They also suffer at the hands of their in-laws.
Rani is a child bride. She was married at the age of fourteen to the man her mother arranged for her to marry. “I could not go against my mother’s will,” Rani said. “So I agreed to marry him without thinking of other options.”
Rani was constantly beaten by her in-laws and husband . “They beat me for trivial matters,” says Rani. ” If they think the dress I washed is not clean or the food I cooked is not tasty, they beat me.”
“He beats me not only with his hands but he uses his belt to beat me,” she says of her husband. ‘He used to say, “No matter how much you cry or ask for help from others, I will not stop beating you.”
Rani has attempted suicide. She said, “Once I was so tired of his beatings. I felt so desperate. I couldn’t take it anymore, I wanted to give away my life. I tried to commit suicide by hanging myself.” According to Rani her in-laws were actually pleased when they learned she was going to hang herself. “I went inside my room and was preparing to hang myself. I screamed, ‘I am going to take away my life!’ My mother-in-law and my husband were relaxing outside the room,” Rani said. “They were listening to what I was saying but they did not try to save me, as I was a burden to them.”
The neighbors informed Rani’s mother about what was taking place.“Then my brother kicked open the door,” Rani says. “At that time, I had already hanged myself. My mother lost her senses when she saw me hanging from a rope. My brother took me on his lap and got me down from the rope. Then my brother took me to the hospital.”
It has been reported that 51 young brides in Bangladesh committed suicide due to mistreatment by their parents-in-law in just one month in 2004.