Child marriage in Pakistan about 6th highest in world: Report

ISLAMABAD    -    The child marriage in Pakistan is about 6th highest in the world for girls married before age of 18, and 71 percent of girls in family do not have any say in who and when they will marry. These were the key findings of the Policy Brief on the Legal Framework of Child Marriage in Pakistan, and findings of the KAP (Knowledge, Attitude, Practices) Survey launched by the National Commission on the Rights of Child (NCRC) in collaboration with the UNICEF Pakistan on Friday. The policy brief was launched in a consultation titled ‘The Socio-Legal Analysis of Child Marriage’. Afshan Tehseen, Chairperson of the National Commission on the Rights of Child, was of the opinion that the governments at federal and provincial level have enacted a number of child protection legislation in the last decade, however; but they lack implementation. NCRC presented the findings of the Policy Brief on the Legal Framework on Child Marriage before the participants highlighting Pakistan’s national and international commitments as well as various gaps in the prevailing laws. Susan Andrew, Child Protection Specialist UNICEF shared the key findings of the KAP survey, conducted in collaboration with the NCRC. The findings showed that the number of child marriages in Pakistan is high, and about the 6th highest in the world for girls’ married before the age of 18 years. Other findings includes that the children are not actively involved in the decision-making process about their marriage and most children are also not aware that there are laws prohibiting child marriage and few children only know the minimum legal age for marriage. Asiya Arif, Executive Director of SPARC, lamented that the number of child brides in Pakistan remains high at 6th place in the World. Pakistan is among countries with low female labour force participation in South Asia which stands at 22 percent. Early marriage and low education only give rise to unskilled domestic forced labour. She reiterated on addressing issues of male victims of child marriage who may drop out of school and accept low socio-economic jobs to support the newly-formed families. Speaking on the occasion Federal Minister for Human Rights, Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada said that Pakistan is over legislated in terms of legislation but there are many hurdles in implementation and the government is working at addressing overcoming systematic and societal challenges. He said lack of education is also one of the major contributing factors in the early marriage of children in Pakistan. Kheal Das, Member National Assembly Pakistan raised the issue of underage Hindu girl Chanda, who was abducted from Hyderabad Sindh few days back. He said minority needs child marriage laws so their girls can be saved. Dr Muhammad Zial ul Haq, DG Islamic Research Institute explained that there are no direct verses regarding child marriages in Shariah; however a person should be entered into a marriage when able to understand the requirements of wedlock

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