Child marriages are those that involve a boy and a girl getting married before the age of 18 years. This practice is widely common in Pakistan and other South Asia regions where every 1 in 5 girls is married before the age of 15 years. However, lately, a bill has been passed in Pakistani Senate to halt child marriages while announcing strict punishments for those who will be reported to practice them.
Why do they happen?
The reason for child marriage is the deep-rooted cultural belief and other social and economic norms and attitudes that cannot be easily eradicated despite the campaigns and other social events. Illiteracy prevails in the areas of practice and it takes quite an effort to convince the native people.
Effects of Child Marriages:
It deprives both the girl and the boy of their complete education and other rights however, a girl is majorly affected by the outcome where she is endangered to violence, exploitation and abuse.
Sherry Rehman while passing the child marriage restraint bill insisted upon raising the age bar to 18 years stating that other Muslim countries such as Oman, Turkey and UAE have already done so. She further on went to say how one woman in every 20 minutes dies during childbirth. Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islam Senator opposed the bill saying that it is not an age matter but poor healthcare. He also stated that Islam allows marriage after puberty.
The bill has been passed by the Senate and now awaits debate in the National Assembly.
The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill aims to “curb the menace of child marriage prevalent in the country and save women from exploitation”. Early and underage marriages can lead to jail for up to three years, a fine of at least Rs100,000 or both together.