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Bangladesh

  • By: Julie Ahmad Siddique
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Traditionally, marriage and motherhood are of central importance to women's lives in Bangladesh. The two main religious traditions in Bangladesh, Islam and Hinduism, emphasize that marriage is a social and spiritual obligation, especially for women. As a result, there is strong cultural pressure for women to marry and have children, whereas unmarried, divorced, and childless women often experience social stigmatization.

Legally, the minimum age of marriage for women is 18; however, it is not strictly enforced. More than 50 percent of women are married by the age of 16, and 98 percent by the age of 24. Furthermore, Bangladesh has one of the world's highest rates of adolescent motherhood. One in three teenage girls is a mother.

The national fertility rate, which is 3.08 children per woman, ...

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