To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the Government of Bangladesh about the effect of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2017 on the rights, equality, and welfare of Rohingya child refugees in Bangladesh and the extent to which that law is enforced in refugee camps.
To date, the UK has not held discussions with the Government of Bangladesh specifically on the effect of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2017 with regard to Rohingya child refugees.
The UK Government is clear that the protection of Rohingya child refugees is a critical aspect of the humanitarian response. We remain concerned by the potential for exploitation of women and girls in Cox's Bazar in addition to the appalling violence suffered by the Rohingya community in Burma. The International Development Secretary raised this concern with Government of Bangladesh Ministers during her recent November 2017 visit to Bangladesh. The UK is funding child protection support to displaced Rohingya communities, including the establishment of 30 child friendly spaces and support for children to learn and adopt safe behaviours in settlements. UK aid is also funding trauma counselling services, including psychosocial and psychological support for 7,500 children.
We have consistently called on the Government of Bangladesh to do more to prevent child marriage in Bangladesh. At the UK hosted Girl Summit in 2014, Bangladesh committed to ending the marriages of girls and boys under the age of 15, reduce the number of girls marrying between the ages of 15 and 18 by one third by 2021, and to end all child marriages by 2041.
The Child Marriage Restraint Act 2017 was an important step in legally defining and attempting to prevent child marriage in Bangladesh. However, we remain concerned by a number of special provisions that can lead to child marriage, including in the event of pregnancy. The High Commission in Dhaka raised this with Government of Bangladesh during the legislation's passage through Bangladesh's parliament.