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Age of marriage
It is customary for marriages in Bangladesh to be arranged by the parents of both the parties involved.

Traditionally, Bangladeshi men tend to be older than women when entering into marriage. For example, men in their twenties tended to marry girls in their teens.

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Recent trends suggest that both sexes are starting to marry slightly later, largely due to the changes in lifestyle as a result of education and economic factors. However, women in particular are still encouraged to marry young, with recent studies suggesting the average age is 16.7 years.

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Dowries are in theory banned but the social practice continues despite government legislation. They are negotiated by the parents of both couples and are given by both sides in the match.

Men give land and women give money and household furnishings. This is slightly different to the situation within the Bangladeshi community within Britain.

There, men give dowries in the form of money and gold, whilst women only have to furnish the house, particularly by providing household appliances. In the event of a divorce, the woman can keep her dowry unless she instigates the divorce proceedings (khul’).

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A divorced woman becomes a non-person. She is usually disowned by her parents or family and the accompanying stigma can also affect other female relations and even her children.

Regardless of circumstance, a woman is always blamed if there is a divorce - people believe that she must have been an inadequate wife for a man to divorce her. She is highly unlikely to get remarried.

People believe that the rest of the family must be bad and an alliance with such a family would be a disgrace, which therefore affects the marriage choices of her relatives.

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Family life
It is still traditional for the newly married couple to live with the man’s family, although this is not always the case.

Once a woman has children, her first duty is to look after them, so she rarely works outside the home unless there is no alternative. When couples cannot have children, men will sometimes divorce their wife, or take another wife.

Childlessness is usually seen to be the fault of the women rather than the man on such occasions. Women rarely have access to - or openly use - contraception, often resulting in large families.