Bangladesh's Child Seamstresses

Bangladesh’s ready-made garments (RMG) industry has been the focus of attention in recent weeks due to the second anniversary of the collapse of Rana Plaza, one of the deadliest industrial accidents in Bangladesh in which more than a 1,000 mostly women workers lost their lives.

Recent UK and US media reports have highlighted the plights of workers and abuse of their rights suggesting that not much has changed since the accident in April 2013. Concerns are also growing over the use of child labour in garments production.

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Child Marriage Law and Freedom of Choice

The government of Bangladesh is presently contemplating a move that would permit girls to marry at 16 with parental consent and/or approval from courts. If the law is passed, it would mark the first occasion that girls are legally permitted to marry below the age of 18 in the Indian subcontinent since the "Child Marriage Restraint Act" came into effect in 1929. 

Despite significant progress in improving gender equality and declining poverty in recent years, Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage among girls in the world: two-thirds of women marry before the age of 18. The current law forbidding the marriage of minors (below the age of 18 for girls and 21 for boys) is frequently ignored and rarely enforced.

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Study on Opportunities & Choices of Bangladeshi Women

Bangladesh has made substantial progress in a number of human development indicators in the past two decades, including declines in fertility and child mortality and the achievement of gender parity in primary and secondary education. But there are important obstacles which constrain overall development, including the persistence of early marriage and childbirth for women, high rates of female secondary school dropout, gender inequality within the households and low female participation in formal employment. To address these issues, the University of Kent (UK) is undertaking a three-year study on female secondary education and the long-term opportunities of rural Bangladeshi women, funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

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