Child marriages | By Dr Ibad Ullah Sajid


Child marriages

PAKISTAN, according to the UNICEF report, is home to nearly 19 million child brides; 1 in 6 young women were married in childhood. UN Women also reported that Pakistan has the 6th highest number of girls married before the age of 18 in the world. An international organization reported that 18% of girls in Pakistan are married before their 18th birthday and 4% are married before the age of 15. Likewise, 5% of boys in Pakistan are also married before the age of 18 years.

The statistics pertaining to the child marriages in Pakistan are really tragic. Child marriages have dramatic social, psychological and physical impacts on the life of such children. Childhood is a beautiful gift of the Almighty which the children, irrespective of the financial status of their family, enjoy immensely but through marriage in early years their childhood is spoiled and they are assigned the adult roles.

Marrying children in early age is quite un-natural that means they are no more children and they have to shoulder the hard facts and responsibilities of life. Some of the prevalent factors that perpetuate child marriages include poverty, exchange marriage system and; ensuring the safety of the child girls by marrying her in early age to avoid them from sexual molestation which ultimately may destroy the family honour.

Girls children are married in the age when they are dependent on their parents. They are pushed to the complicated situation where they can face severe psychological issues and mental stress and physical assault. Child marriages have serious and far-reaching consequences in terms of early pregnancies, premature abortions, complicated labour and increased rate of child and maternal mortality.

Child and maternal mortality has already been a big issue for Pakistan and one of its main reasons is pregnancy related complications among under 19 girls. Experts say that pregnancy in below 15 years girls has devastating repercussions. A Child girl after marriage is highly susceptible to be abused verbally, psychologically and physically because she often can’t fulfil the high expectations of her husband and his family. These all types of abuse may lead her towards serious mental health issues. Unfortunately, such mentally estranged victims have often no social and psychologically support.

In some traditional and uneducated families, young girls having severe psychological & mental health issues are considered as possessed by Jinnaat (evil spirits) and they have to face physical torture of so-called Peers and Aamils. Child marriage has also serious adverse effects on personality development, physical growth and health of the women. Further, child marriages have been considered as one of the major factors contributed to the low literacy rate of women in Pakistan.

After marriage, the girls are generally not allowed to continue their education. Moreover, early marriages due to higher fertility rate in young girls, is also responsible for higher population growth rate. Child marriage practice has been in vogue since long as it is deeply rooted in traditions and customary practices of different societies and cultures. It is quite satisfying that nowadays its social, psychological, physical and economic impacts have been realized and debated widely but there is still a long way to go to eliminate this issue completely.