Draft bill on child marriages ready, tabled in Sindh assembly soon

Karachi: Many marriages are settled before 16 of age in Pakistan, which is in violation of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 and there is dire need to eradicate the culture of child marriages from the country.

These views were expressed by speakers while addressing at a program of Adolescent Girls Empowerment (AGE) initiated by Rutgers WPF Pakistan to set to bring legislative change to raise the legal marriage age for girls in Sindh from 16 to 18 years.

The project funded by Research and Advocacy Fund (RAF) in collaboration with HANDS to assess the situation of child marriages in Pakistan.

According a study conducted by Rutgers WPF in the six district of Pakistan 61 percent of the marriages were settled in child marriage. The pregnant girls at 15 years of age are 5 times more likely to dies as compared to girls those marriage were settled after 20 year age and maternal mortality ration is 276 on every 100,000 live births in nationwide.

Scholar Dr Mohsin Naqvi said marriage in Islam does not merely pertain to physical relationship; rather it entails the raising a responsible family with equal and quality education for children and training them for a better life in future. He said marriages should be done only when boy and girl are able to run their financial and social matters smoothly.

Secretary Labour Department Sindh Noor Muhammad Laghari said a draft on early marriages has already been finalized and would be tabled soon in Sindh Assembly.

Country Representative of Rutgers WPF Pakistan Qadeer Baig said dealing with the issue of child marriages in Sindh was daunting task.

Highlighting the achievements of the AGE project, he added: “Rutgers WPF, Pakistan will continue to advocate for girls rights, and to end child marriages in Pakistan, by supporting the Alliance Against Child Marriages- Sindh and initiating a movement against child marriages.”

Qadeer Baig said with passing of the child marriages bill in Sindh would serve as a leap towards realizing girls’ rights in the society. He said once the child marriages bill in Sindh is adopted in Sindh, similar efforts would be made in other provinces.

To strengthen the local ownership on child marriages Rutgers WPF, Pakistan through an MOU with Women Development Department-Government of Sindh, with support from Justice (r) Shaiq Usmani drafted child marriages Restraint Bill 2013/2014, in order to give legal protection to victims of early age marriages, especially girls. Under the project more than 1809 local community leaders and activists sensitized, more than 145 awareness raising activities were conducted including media sensitization.

The draft bill is being reviewed by the special committee formed by the speaker comprising of MPAs from various parties. It is hoped that the Sindh Assembly will pass this important Bill in next session, said Baig.

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