CHILD MARRIAGE AND VIOLENCE

Published by The Daily Star on 5th December, 2012 (Link Above)

This week Your Advocate is Barrister Omar Khan Joy, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He is the head of the chambers of a renowned law firm, namely, ‘Legal Counsel’, which has expertise mainly in commercial law, corporate law, family law, employment and labor law, land law, banking law, constitutional law, criminal law, IPR and in conducting litigations before courts of different hierarchies. Our civil and criminal law experts from reputed law chambers will provide the legal summary advice.

Query
A girl on my neighborhood got married by her parents at the age of 16. She has not gone through good time at her in laws. They used to torture her very frequently. At one point she was compelled to escape from there. But she hasn’t brought anything with her like gold ornaments or money. Her mohorana is still not being paid. Her guardians are not filing any case as they are in fear that they have already done a crime by marrying their daughter of at the age before 18. Meanwhile they are informed that her in laws have filed a G.D. in her name for escaping with valuable things. Now at this situation what can be remedy in law for them? Can she get her mohorana or maintenance from her husband?

Nafiu Akhter
Agargoan, Dhaka.

Response
Dear Reader, thank you very much for your query. I am glad that you have taken up the issue of your neighbor seriously. It is quite unfortunate to know that child marriages are still taking place in the country even in the heart of the capital-Dhaka. We have not been able to eliminate the child marriage despite having legislative restrictions and despite doing continuous and detailed activities for raising awareness against the same. There are actually two related but distinct issues involved here. The starting was with the child marriage and it continued with the domestic violence.

The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 makes it an offence for anyone to marry a child. For the purpose of this Act, a girl under 18 is considered as a child. Accordingly, the bridegroom has committed an offence in contravention of section 4 of the Act, which is punishable with imprisonment with up to 1 month. In the similar manner, the guardians of the child have also violated the provisions of the Act by directing the child marriage and are also liable to be punished under the Act.

However, it is notable that the court has to take cognisance of the said offences of child marriage within 1 (one) year of such marriage. In case if one year has already passed, the court will not try the case.

Moving to the next issue, it seems that the bride has been facing domestic violence and torture in her in law family. Such actions by the members of her in-law family may attract several provisions of the Penal Code, Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain, Dowry Prevention Act etc.

It is possible that the bride or her parents lodge a complaint against the offenders of her in law family. The fact that her in laws have already filed a G.D with the false contents will not deter them from filing a complaint. It is also possible that they lodge a G.D. with the real factual descriptions. So far as the dower money is concerned, the bride is definitely entitled to receive the same at the time of solemnizing the marriage. She is also entitled to get maintenance from her husband during the continuity of the marriage and also for another three months, in case of the marriage is dissolved by way of divorce, except for some exceptional circumstances. She can demand for the same from her husband.

However, the best possible solution in a family matter lies within the family. The law can certainly give protections to the distressed but entering into a legal battle does not always ensure the best outcome for the parties concerned. The senior members of both the families should sit together to find an amicable and workable solution for the couple taking into account their wishes. If that does not work, the parties may respectfully get divorced without the need of filing cases and counter cases against each other. I hope that the couple will be able to find their best possible solutions with the wholehearted support from their respective parents, friends and well-wishers.

For detailed query contact: omar@legalcounselbd.com.