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Tough law coming to prevent child marriage

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Staff Reporter
The Cabinet on Monday approved in principle the draft of the 'Child Marriage Prevention Bill 2014' extending the punishment of both jail term and fine for three types of offences to control child marriage in the country.
The approval was given at the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the proposed law has been drafted in Bangla to make the existing law of 1929 more time-befitting one.
The proposed law has a provision of maximum punishment of TK 50,000 in fine and maximum two years’ jail term for three types of offences like the couple, those who would conduct child marriage and the guardians concerned. “A female offender will only face fine, not jail term.”
The law considers minors as below 21 years for male and below 18 years for female.
The Cabinet Secretary said the Cabinet directed the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs to review the age bar provision for lowering it considering the tropical environment of the country and the reality. As per the Child Act, people aged up to 18 years are considered children.
The age of boys and girls under the law would be determined through birth certificates, national identity cards, passports and SSC examination certificates. Executive magistrates will be able to conduct trial under the law while the matter of terminating child marriages would be under the jurisdiction of the Family Court.
Besides, a Child Marriage Prevention Committee will be formed at various tiers with government officials, NGO officials, public representatives and civil society members.
The Cabinet meeting also endorsed in principle the draft of the 'Customs Bill, 2014' drafted in Bengali aimed at making the revenue management related to customs more transparent, modern, time befitting, business and investment friendly, more revenue generating and incorporating risk management as well as reflecting the provisions of Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of WTO.
Musharraf Hossain said the proposed law has been placed before the Cabinet meeting in consultation with the stakeholders concerned incorporating various amendments to the existing Customs Act 1969 to make it of international standards.
He said the full implementation of the proposed law will begin on July 1, 2016 since there is a need for improving the necessary infrastructures and imparting training to the stakeholders concerned to this end.
The proposed law also has a provision of consulting the stakeholders concerned on various occasions, advanced cargo declaration, more simplification and development of the export and import goods declaration and various systems of customs valuation.
The Cabinet meeting was also apprised about the participation of the Foreign Minister in the 21st Ministerial Conference of Asean Regional Forum (ARF) held on August 10, 2014 at Nay Pi Taw in Myanmar and participation of the Bangladesh Delegation led by the Finance Minister at the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) of the ECOSOC of the UN on July 10-11, 2014 in New York.
Ministers and state ministers and secretaries concerned were present at the meeting.