Legal Registration of Marriage in Bangladesh: An Intervention to Strengthen Women's Economic and Social Position and Protect Them against Domestic Violence?
Lisa M. Bates, Harvard University
Farzana Islam, Jahangirnagar University
Md. Khairul Islam, Plan International
The government of Bangladesh and NGOs concerned with improving women's rights and gender equity have used a variety of channels to raise awareness of longstanding national laws and policies relating to marriage and the family, and to encourage compliance with them. Despite these efforts, families often disregard such laws---notably, those establishing a minimum age at marriage and prohibiting the taking of dowry. Recent data from a study of gender inequality and marriage in rural Bangladesh which began over a decade ago suggests that a law requiring legal registration of marriages constitutes and exception to this pattern. This paper explores the statistical correlates of marriage registration and the social and cultural meanings attached to it, with an eye to understanding whether the promotion of marriage registration is in fact an effective intervention for empowering women within marriage.