MPAs from two major political parties and officials from the government departments on Monday resolved to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls in Punjab from 16 to 18 years and make National Identity Card mandatory document as an evidence of age at the time of marriage. They also announced support for amendment to the relevant Act which is pending in the Punjab Assembly and waiting for the approval.
This was announced during a press conference on ‘Say No To Child Brides’, which was held at Lahore Press Club by Bargad, a leading youth development organization. MPAs – Sadia Sohail Rana, Sumaira Bukhari, Bushra Anjum Butt, Uzma Kardar and Ms. Sabiha Shaheen were present on the occasion.
During Say No To Child Brides, the Bargad has already organized youth-led rickshaw messages campaign in Lahore, online campaign involving social media influencers, online petition (signed by 22,815 persons so far), multi stakeholders dialogue with parliamentarians, policy-makers, government officials, civil society organizations and media, sessions with youth, webinars with decision makers and social action projects led by youth.
MPA Sadia Sohail said early age marriage is an evil and must be eliminated from Punjab. She further said that early age marriage is harmful to health, health of next generation and overall wellbeing of girls who are married at very young age as they are not physically or emotionally ready to take responsibilities. According to MPA Bushra Anjam Butt the ID card must be a mandatory document at the time of marriage for Pakistani nationals whereas passport for foreign nationals because without this people will still keep showing a 10-year-old girl as 16 or 18 to avoid punishment or hurdle by law enforcement agencies. MPA Sadia Sohail said that the female MPAs fully agree that legislative amendment to The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 should be approved as early as possible and awareness should be provided in places like mosques in Friday sermons.
Ms. Sabiha Shaheen said that Bargad has been pursuing the matter of bill amendment in The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 sinch 2015 and we will keep doing so until the bill is approved. We have also been creating the awareness in communities for acceptance and implementation of the very law.