Religious scholars, legislators and civil society on Thursday raised voice against the practice of child marriages in the country.
They were addressing the national convention against the practice of child marriage, organized by Center for Communication Programs Pakistan in collaboration with civil society organizations from across country that formed ‘End Child Marriage in Pakistan’ caucus.
The national convention showcased provincial case studies related to sociological as well as religious drivers of child marriage, cultural practices, gaps in legislation and issues faced by communities with the current applicable laws of child marriage, poster exhibition against the practice of child marriage, an advocacy booth where civil society showcased their respective material.
The convention organized by Center for Communication Programs Pakistan with support of AmplifyChange was widely attended by civil society organizations, legislators, media, academia, multi-lateral organizations as well as religious scholars.
Chairperson of Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Maliha Ali Asghar Khan hailing from the ruling party PTI remarked that a government bill aiming at increasing the age of marriage of girl from 16 to 18 years including has been submitted to cabinet for approval and will be tabled in the assembly soon.
She said the WPC is going to support the bill once tabled. Although the average age of marriage for girls has increased according to the statistics presented in Pakistan Demographic Health Survey 2017-18, yet a deeper analysis points towards increase in marriages at the age of 15 and 16 years and increase in child birth in these age groups, which is alarming.
Rahila Khadim Hussain, member provincial assembly of Punjab from PML-N said she had worked for amendments in the now applicable law in Punjab and was able to enact harsher punishments yet the increase in the age of the girl child for marriage could not be increased from 16 to 18 years.
She said she has submitted a bill against the practice of child marriage in the Punjab assembly.
Religious scholars from Islamabad, Sindh and Punjab also spoke at the occasion.
Maulana Sharif Hazarvi a renowned religious scholar from Madrassah Darusalam, Islamabad remarked that its essential that the issue is looked at beyond the discussion of reason and absence of reason for child marriage according to sharia.
He said in our cultural and sociological context when we review child marriage and responsibilities that a girl has, we have to think of increasing the age of child marriage till the time a girl can inculcate moral values and educate her children to face the world.
Syed Ahmad Yusuf Banuri, religious scholar from Jamia Baunri, Karachi shared that mental maturity of a male and female entering the contract of marriage is a must according to Islam and if we only take into account physical maturity and ignore mental maturity, we cannot expect a wholesome family unit to form, which is the basis of every society and civilization.