Studies Show High Rate of Teenage Pregnancy and Marriage in Bangladesh
Monday, August 10, 2009 3:03 PM

The 2007 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (released in March 2009) indicates that girls in Bangladesh marry, on average, at 16.4 years.  This is only .4 years older than the survey reported in 2004, despite attempts during that time by government and non-profit organizations to decrease the occurrence of teenage marriage.


A high rate of teenage pregnancy is associated with teenage marriage.  The British Medical Journal reports that one-third of teenage girls in Bangladesh between 15 and 19 are either pregnant or already mothers.  Teenage pregnancy is substantially more likely to result in complications for the mother or child than pregnancy during a woman's twenties.


Studies indicate that one cause of this high rate of teenage marriage, particularly in rural areas, is forced marriage by family members.  Some parents seek to marry young daughters out of fear that increased age will mean an increased dowry price.  Additionally, some families perceive young women to be burdens on the family, which can be alleviated by marrying them off at an early age.

Several non-governmental organizations are attempting to combat the occurrence of forced marriage in Bangladesh with an awareness campaign.  One program involves young mothers telling their stories to teenage girls in an attempt to persuade them not to accept any marriage offers before they are 20.  While these programs may have some success, many girls are still limited in their choice of whether or not to accept a marriage proposal by their families and the custom of forced marriages.


Compiled from:  "BANGLADESH:  Too young to marry," IRIN (July 31, 2009).