Panellists of Youth for Change Bangladesh, along with the members of Young Change Makers Coalition in Bangladesh, organised media campaigns on Child Marriage Restraint Act 2017 throughout the month of February. A series of immediate press conferences were organised in three major cities outside the capital.
Child Marriage Restraint Act 2017 was passed on 27th February 2017 by the National Parliament. The act has a provision of “special circumstances” which will now technically make child marriages legal. The new rule keeps the minimum marriageable age for females at 18 but relaxes the restriction for “special circumstances”, including for girls who elope, are raped or bear children out of wedlock. According to the new law, marriages involving underage brides or grooms will not be considered an offence if they take place with the consent of the court and the guardians in “special contexts” serving the “best interest” of the underage female.
Hence the youth of Youth for Change, along with Young Change Makers Coalition, conducted three immediate press conferences in Chittagong, Mymensingh and Barisal respectively. Journalists from print and electronic media were present in the conference. The youths delivered their speeches regarding the issue, then participated in question and answer sessions with the media. On average 4,500 mass people received the information about the law by local newspapers. The major recommendations stated by the youths are:
- Finalise the guidelines of the Act very quickly and ensure participation of the children and youth during the development of the guideline.
- Should rethink for the prohibition of the special provision of CMRA 2017 and make the rules in favour of children.
- Should have the coordination mechanism between Child Marriage Restraint Committee and Child Welfare Board in the upcoming rules of CMRA 2017.
- Need clarification in guidelines on how “best interest of the children” as per UNCRC will be ensured when applying special provision.
- Formation of monitoring cell, including government, civil society, legal office and children who will monitor implement on the act.
- Ensure stricter punishment for the perpetrators mentioned under the Act.
- Should review national plan of actions based of the Act.