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Wednesday, October 29, 2014, Kartik 14, 1421, Muharram 4, 1436 Hijr

UK Minister calls Jan 5 polls 'constitutionally correct'
Diplomatic Correspondent
Publish Date : 2014-10-29,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 136
The visiting British Junior Minister for International Development said the political parties have the "responsibility" to hold a free, fair and credible election for the future of the people.
She was speaking to media at a press conference at the British High Commission in the city on Tuesday. British High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Gibson and Country Representative of the Department for International Development (DFID) Sarah Cooke were also present.
Minister Lynne Featherstone in response to a question on the issue of January 5 national elections said the United Kingdom found the polls "constitutionally correct" but was disappointed as half of the seats returned uncontested due to a major opposition BNP boycott.
Featherstone said she was not here to discuss politics but she felt that it was the duty of the politicians to break the five-year cycle of political violence in Bangladesh, without mentioning the pre-election anti-government civil strife.
"Political parties are responsible to the people of Bangladesh and it is for the betterment of Bangladeshis that political parties need to get together," she said highlighting the need of dialogue for 'an inclusive election'.
She reiterated commitments made at the Girl Summit to eliminate child marriage and all forms of violence against women must become a reality in Bangladesh, in the UK, and in all other countries.
Featherstone visited several British aid projects which address violence against women and girls.
The Minister urged Bangladesh development partners to campaign against violence against women and girls and help end child, early and forced marriages.
She admires the energy, enthusiasm and talent demonstrated by young people whose lives have been affected by violence and who are working so hard to put an end to it.
Britain is also developing a £25 million programme to prevent child and forced marriage in 12 developing countries, including Bangladesh.
At the Girl Summit 2014 hosted jointly by the UK government and UNICEF last summer began to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriages within a generation, she said.
She mentioned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Girl Summit in London pledged that Bangladesh would end marriage under the age of 15 by 2021 and under 18 by 2041, and reduce the number of girls getting married between 15 and 18 by more than one third by 2021.
Featherstone appreciates the commitment of Bangladesh government to develop a national plan of action by the end of 2014 and revise the 'Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929' by 2015.
Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in South Asia: 65 per cent - that is 2 in 3 girls and the fourth highest worldwide.
A study conducted by ActionAid, an international NGO on safety and security of women in seven cities in Bangladesh found over 49 per cent of women and girls surveyed do not feel safe in the city or when using public transports. Over 14 per cent said they feared sexual violence in the workplace.
UK aid is providing matching fund for ActionAid's 'Safe Cities for Women' campaign in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Kenya and Zimbabwe, helping directly over 60,000 men and women, boys and girls worldwide and reaching a total of around 2.8 million people in Bangladesh, Featherstone told journalists.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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