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Child marriage, climate vulnerability and natural disasters in coastal Bangladesh

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2020

M. Niaz Asadullah*
Affiliation:
Faculty of Economics & Administration, University of Malaya, Malaysia
Kazi Md Mukitul Islam
Affiliation:
Department of Development Studies, University of Malaya, Malaysia
Zaki Wahhaj
Affiliation:
Department of Economics, University of Kent, UK
*
*Corresponding author. Email: m.niaz@um.edu.my

Abstract

This study examined the nature and correlates of child marriage in eight villages in climate-affected coastal Bangladesh using a mixed-methods approach: focus group discussions and in-depth qualitative interviews of female victims of child marriage as well as quantitative data collected using structured interviews of households. More than two-thirds of the qualitative survey respondents had encountered at least one event of natural disaster before marriage. Quantitative data confirmed significantly higher exposure to flood and river erosion among the coastal population. The quantitative data also suggested a positive association between shocks related to climate events and the incidence of child marriage, while the qualitative data indicated multiple themes related to the causes of child marriage, such as economic vulnerability, coping with risk and patriarchal norms. Yet the qualitative study respondents did not directly refer to natural disasters and climate changes when narrating their marital histories. The qualitative and quantitative evidence does not suggest that dowry-related factors are leading to early marriage. Rather, child marriage appears to be a coping strategy adopted by households in response to their increased vulnerability to natural disasters.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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