Published On: Sun, Sep 30th, 2012

New stat: 32 percent of all Pakistani marriages are child marriages

Marriage at an early age is a harsh reality for many young women, with dire repercussions for them, their children and the community.

photo Zainub Razvi

According to UNICEF, child marriages accounted for 32 per cent of all marriages in Pakistan from 1987 to 2005.  Around 100 million girls are expected to enter into child marriage in the next decade, the report said.

Qindeel Shujaat, legal adviser on human rights, said that while there are laws to prevent child marriages, the Child Marriages Restraint Act 1929 hasn’t been modified in 82 years.

“The punishment for violating the law is a fine or one month imprisonment. If a marriage involving children takes place, the adults are punished, but the marriage is not dissolved,” she said.

Penalties should be applicable on parents of both the bride and groom. Also, the minimum age for marriage for both boys and girls should be 18 years. While a 16 year-old girl is eligible for marriage, she cannot vote, drive or open a bank account. The groom is required by law to be 18 or above.

The underage mother and child’s psychological health is also adversely affected as the transition to motherhood is abrupt and premature.

“Young girls lose control over their bodies and lives. Patriarchy determines the girls’ fate and they are imprisoned in an adult life while still children,” said Uzma Tahir, policy manager Actionaid. She also stated that it was imperative to change the societal mind set that considers women the personal property of their male family members. “The difficulty in bringing about reforms is doubled as laws  are not conducive to change,” Tahir said.

Rutger’s WPF Country Director Qadeer Baig said, “We want to engage the media to raise awareness on early marriages and pregnancy and influence policy makers and government officials to bring about legislative change in the minimum age of marriage.”

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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