DAUGHTERS are blessing from Allah almighty. Allah said in the Holy Qur’an “when I am happy I gift daughter to parents”. In Pakistan many families still consider daughter as a burden and many families prefer their daughters to marry off in the young age. Girl Child marriage is a long lasting and widespread unlawful traditional practice that is continuing in different countries in the world. Mostly in developing countries, million young girls are suffering from child marriage harmful practice and abuse and its impact destroys young girl’s lives. Mostly girls are “forced to marry, many of them are drop out from schools, many face serious health complications and even death from early pregnancy and childbearing, and many of them are at a greater risk of HIV infection.
According to a UNICEF report estimate that, 3 percent of girls in Pakistan are married before they turn 15 and 21 percent before the age of 18.Recent research entitled ‘Demographics of child marriages in Pakistan’ (WHO), stated that mostly child marriages are in practice in rural areas than in urban areas and more than 140 million girls will marry between 2011 and 2020. In Pakistan, the majority of child marriage practices remained high in the province of Sindh, where 72%of girls and 25%of boys become victims of child marriage, while in Baluchistan and Punjab province, the child marriage practices involved 66% of girls and 22% of boys being reported. The highest rate of the girl child marriage practices has recorded in the tribal areas of Pakistan where 99% of girls are married under the unlawful traditional practices.
The traditional practices of child marriages are against the ‘Islamic rules and laws, while the traditionally conservative customs rooted in society do not live up to the Holy Quran’s vision of dignity for women, young girls and children. Pakistan ratified and signatory of UN conventions Rights of the Child (CRC), convention was never enforced in the country. Government of Pakistan has shown little interest in providing legal security to children. Girl child marriage is a serious human rights violation. It is the main responsibility of parents and government to protect the young girls from prejudicial and unlawful child marriage practices and provide them their “full rights, standards of health, proper education and development with the best interest of the child”.
Government of Pakistan has badly failed to protect the rights of a child; even the constitutional laws did not provide safety to children in the country. The core problem which undermines early marriages victims right to a remedy are lack of will to enforce existing laws, underpinned by the lack of adequate legislations to address the abuses heaped upon the girl’s child by arranged marriages. The implementation of constitutional laws in Pakistan is a complicated process, delays in the justice process and low conviction rates are continuing giving more powers to violators.
Pakistan is missing proper laws and policy to end the child marriage practices. Pakistan has remained unsuccessful to end the child marriage abuse in the country due to the religious extremists who interpreted Islam by different ways, whereas Islam protects the rights of woman and children. The silence of the State, Judiciary and Religious leaders on the subject matter constant rejection in the amendments of CMR Act 1929 actuated and increased violence and abuses of child marriage in the country.
Government of Pakistan required strict laws to end child marriage illegal practices and to come up with an effective legal system in the country. Pakistan also need implementation of Rule of law which must be based on effective and fair judicial systems. There is need of rule of law to end such unlawful practices from society. “When laws do not rule, no constitution and no civilized society can exist in absence of a rule of law. Rule of law ensures equality and justice to all citizens” by Jill Frank.
— The writer is a Lawyer & Researcher, based in Islamabad