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Child marriage in Pakistan

Rukhsar Inam

Under child marriage restraint act 1929 (No XIX) child marriage is legally prohibited extent in Pakistan. The minimum age for marriage of a man should be 18 years while 16 years for a female (Section 2).

According to a Unicef report in 2013 21% of the girls were married before the age of 18 in Pakistan.

In 2017 the demographic and health survey (DHS) showed that women in Pakistan in their early twenties 39.5% were married before the age of 18.

Addressing the issue of child marriage in Pakistan is challenging because of its links to tradition and religion.

In Provinces like Sindh, Pubjab and Khyber Pakhtoon Khowa a father and grand-father typically take the decision while a mother can only influence the decision, and propose a suitable husband.

The decision is considered crucial to the family yet it is difficult for a girl to decide as well. In some rural families the infant girls are often engaged the time when they are born.

Marriages in Pakistan is affected by social norms. In fact, marriage is regarded a’ Sunnah – an obligation and religious scripture exploring the right moment for marriage – Though in ways open to interpretation.

In addition to this, young woman is the symbolic of her family’s honour, typically in Sindh, child marriage is said to mitigate the risk of harming the family’s honour particularly if the girl has experienced sexual result, pre-marital sex and out-of-wed lock pregnancies.

Child marriage is most common in Sindh/Khyber Pkhtoon Khowa, most of the girls are drop-out from school, especially in cultural setting where girls are raised for a lifetime confined to household occupation and are expected to marry very young.

Most of the family think marriage is a way to ensure that their daughters are “protected” as parents feel their daughter will be better off financially and will be saved from sexual abuse or illicit sexual contact if they are married. The child marriage is the cultural practice among some communities in Sindh/Khyber Pakhtoon Khowa.

Besides this, girls are deprived of making choices as they remain illiterate and undeveloped throughout life. Child marriage is practiced in some parts of Pakistan, with the highest prevalence in the Sindh Province.

To record this article 65 girls under the age of 18 have been married each year and 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 and nearly one every 3 seconds.

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