Bangladesh is located in the northeastern part of South Asia. It is almost entirely surrounded by India, except for a short southeastern frontier with Myanmar and a southern coastline on the Bay of Bengal. The Moguls ruled the country from the 13th until the 18th century, when the British took over and administered the subcontinent until 1947. During British rule, Bangladesh was a part of India. In 1947, the independent states of Pakistan and India were created. The present territory of Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan. Bangladesh emerged on March 26, 1971, as an independent country on the world’s map following a war of liberation.
Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, excluding city-states such as Singapore, Bahrain, and the Vatican. The population of the country is about 158 million, with a population density of 1,070 persons per square kilometer in 2014. Muslims make up almost 90 percent of the population, while Hindus account for about 9 percent. The sex ratio is 95 males per 100 females. According to the 2014 survey, women aged 15-49 have completed a median of 4.6 years of schooling, and 86 percent of women aged 15-24 are literate compared with 39 percent of women aged 45-49.
Source: extracted from Bangladesh Demographic & Health Survey (BDHS) 2014
Sexual and Reproductive Health
Key findings from the 2014 BDHS on the situation of SRHR in Bangladesh are as follows:
- The maternal mortality rate fell from 322 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998-2001 to 194 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007-2010.
- Two-thirds of women (64 percent) received antenatal care from a medically trained provider
- The likelihood of receiving antenatal care from a medically trained provider increases with women’s education level and wealth status. In the last three years of the BDHS, the gap in use of antenatal from a trained provider between the richest and the poorest women declined only slightly, from 57 percentage points in 2011 to 54 percentage points in 2014.
- 42 percent of births in Bangladesh were attended by medically trained personnel.
- Medically assisted births are more common among women in urban areas (61 percent), women who have completed secondary or higher education (75 percent), and women in the highest wealth quintile.
- 39 percent of mothers and 36 percent of children in Bangladesh received postnatal care from a medically trained provider within 42 days after delivery.
- The total fertility rate for the three years preceding the survey is 2.3 births per woman.
- Between the 2011 and 2014 BDHS, fertility declined or remained the same in 6 of 7 divisions.
- The total fertility rate in urban areas is nearly half a child lower than in rural areas.
- 31 percent of adolescents aged 15-19 in Bangladesh are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. This proportion has not changed in the last three years.
- Sixty-two percent of married women in Bangladesh use some method of contraception, and 54 percent use a modern method.
- At the time of the report, the four most popular modern methods used by married women are the pill (27 percent), injectables (12 percent), the male condom (6 percent), and female sterilization (5 percent).
- Fourteen percent of currently married women have ever heard of the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP), 13 percent of them have ever used it, and 6 percent used it within the last 12 months.
- The government sector remains the major provider of contraceptive methods, catering to 49 percent of users.
Under Bangladesh’s penal code of 1860, induced abortion is illegal except to save a women’s life. However menstrual regulation (MR) has been part of Bangladesh’s national family planning programme since 1979.
HIV & AIDS:
- Seventy percent of ever-married women aged 15-49 have heard of HIV/AIDS, similar to that documented in 2011.
- Only 11 percent of ever-married women aged 15-49 have comprehensive knowledge about AIDS.
- The great majority of ever-married women (91 percent) think that if a woman knows her husband has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), she is justified in refusing to have sexual intercourse with him.
- The proportion of women who sought advice or treatment for an STI from a clinic, hospital, or health professional increased from 31 percent in 2011 to 46 percent in 2014.
- Nearly all women who have completed secondary education (99 percent) have heard of HIV/AIDS compared with 40 percent of women with no
- More than half of ever-married women (56 percent) know that HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy and through breastfeeding, while less than half (44 percent) know that HIV can be transmitted during delivery.
Sexual and Reproductive Rights
Child Early & Forced Marriage (CEFM):
- The legal age of marriage for women in Bangladesh is 18 years, but a large proportion of marriages still take place before the woman reaches her legal age.
- The 2014 BDHS found that 59 percent of women aged 20-24 were married before age 18.
- The median age at first marriage among women aged 20-49 is 16.1 years.
- Fifty-nine percent of women aged 20-24 now marry before age 18.
- Almost 40 percent of women aged 15-49 would have preferred to marry later than they actually did.
- Half of the women who married before age 18 would have preferred to marry later.
- Older women (aged 21-49) are more likely than younger women to say that their marriage took place at the right time (54 versus 28 percent).
- 33 percent of women aged 20-49 had sexual intercourse by age 15.
Violence Against Women (VAW):
- Twenty-eight percent of women agree with one or more reasons justifying wife beating.
- One in five women thinks wife beating is justified if she argues with her husband.
- The most widely accepted reason for wife beating among women in Bangladesh is arguing with her husband (20 percent), followed by neglecting the children (15 percent).
- Agreement with at least one reason for wife beating varies little by age or marital status.