National Commission on the Status of Women

Government of Pakistan

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NCSW statement on child's marriage

Oct 12, 2017

ISLAMABAD, October 12, 2017: National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) condemns the rejection of amendment in Child Marriage Act by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Wednesday.

The Commission is disappointed to observe that despite the absence of mover of the bill Senator Sehar Kamran, the Standing Committee members voted against the amendment which suggests increasing the minimum age for girls to marry from 16 years to 18 years. According to media reports, the Committee deferred three other bills due to the same reason.

The Commission was surprised to note that the progressive Senators like Senator Tahir Hussien Mashhadi, who believes that ‘children are robbed of their innocence and youth due to early marriages,’ also voted against the amendment.

Ironically, the amendment was rejected on International Girl Child Day by the Committee that was chaired by Senator Rehman Malik who represents Pakistan People Party Parliamentarians that played a leading role in approving Sindh Child Marriage Bill 2013 from the Sindh Assembly in 2013. The Sindh Child Marriage Bill 2013 prohibits marriage of children below 18 years.

The Commission believes that amendment is vital for the future of girl child in Pakistan and is directly linked to their welfare and protection. Early marriage thwarts a girl’s chances of acquiring education, endangers her health and cuts short her personal growth and development. This practice denies girls of their right to make vital decisions about their sexual health and well being.

According to health experts, the risk of death for pregnant girls under the age of 15 is five times higher than for women in their twenties. Besides that, the UN Convention of the Rights of Child, ratified by the Government of Pakistan, also suggests that the minimum of marriage should be increased to 18 year.

Considering these facts, the Commission demands the Standing Committee on Interior to review their decision on the basis of ground realities and in the favour of girls that constitute half of Pakistani youth.

Khawar Mumtaz

National Commission on the Status of Women

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