The Bangladesh Parliament approved the new legislation by a voice vote Monday. It allows exceptions to the minimum marriage age, currently set at 18 for women and 21 for men.
Under the Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2017, parents or guardians can get a court order to allow children to be married if it is in their "best interests."
There is no minimum age for when these special considerations can apply, nor any definition of what "best interests" could mean, but human rights groups are concerned the law could lead to rape victims or impregnated minors being married to their abusers.
"Many opportunists may try their luck in between the shortcomings of this law," Nur Khan Liton, a spokesman for the Child Rights Advocacy Coalition in Bangladesh, told CNN.
"It (talks) about parents' consent for the marriage. Where does it speak about the girl's interest?"
The Bangladeshi government has defended the legislation, saying it doesn't encourage rape and calling for trust in the local courts to judge the special circumstances.
Half of girls married by 18
Human Rights Watch has slammed the move, calling it a "devastating step backward for the fight against child marriage."
The organization says that Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in Asia.
Currently 52% of Bangladesh's women are married by the time they're 18, according to UNICEF's 2016 State of the World's Children report.
Of those, 18% are married by the time they turn 15, one of the highest rates in the world.
"The focus now must be on containing the damage caused by Bangladesh legalizing child marriage," said Heather Barr, senior researcher on women's rights at Human Rights Watch.
"Nothing can change the fact that this is a destructive law. But carefully drafted regulations can mitigate some of the harm to girls."
A different law was originally proposed in 2014 as a way to crack down on child marriages
in Bangladesh, according to Human Rights Watch, but nothing came of it.
Responding to the international criticism, Bangladeshi lawmaker Rebecca Momin, who chairs the parliamentary Children and Women Affairs' Committee, said the new legislation had been misunderstood.
"Those who are opposing the idea are not aware of the grass-roots society of Bangladesh. A child born from unwanted pregnancy requires an identity in this society," she said.
"Besides, such (special circumstances) will be monitored and probed by the court and local administration. I'm sure they will have the best judgment before providing permission for marriage."