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Punjab plans to raise marriage age for Girls to 18 years

Jan 29, 2015

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government is planning to raise minimum marriage age for girls to 18.

This was stated by the Chairperson of Punjab Provincial Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) Fauzia Viqar while speaking at the National Conference on Child Marriages in Pakistan: Challenges and Strategies.

She said the Punjab Cabinet was meeting this week to discuss amendments to the current family laws.

Cabinet to discuss amendments to current family laws this week

“It is under consideration to raise the minimum marriageable age from 16 to 18 years for girls, penalize non-registration of marriages with a fine of Rs50,000

and make production of CNIC of bride and groom mandatory,” she said.

The conference was organised by Democratic Commission for Human Development and National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) in collaboration with Save the Children.

Ms Viqar said it was also under consideration to punish groom’s father/ guardian and the individual solemnizing the marriage as well as the adult groom for forcing underage girl for marriage. Standardising the nikkah nama format will also be discussed in the cabinet meeting, she said.

“Educating girls and boys on the contents of nikkah nama by adding it in the school curriculum is also under consideration,” she said.

She shared the helpline number of a (0800 93372) set up by the Punjab PCSW for registering complaints about child marriages.

She assured that the PCSW would proceed in the cases and get the FIR registered with the relevant police station.

The NCSW chairperson, Khawar Mumtaz, said child marriage destroyed the life of a girl.

“It deprives her of education, right to development and growth and exposes her to health risks and gender-based violence,” she said.

She said women’s caucus both at the national and provincial level was ready to move forward with the child marriage restraint law and urged the civil society to create momentum and contact lawmakers for action.

Chairperson of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa PCSW Neelam Toru said in her province there was a lot of resistance to such awareness campaigns about harmful effects of child marriages.

She said in her province girls were considered as the ‘honour’ of the family and were taken out of school on reaching puberty.

Justice Kohli from PCSW Balochistan agreed with Ms Toru’s views about the difficulties faced in bringing about legislation against child marriages.

Director Advocacy and Campaigns Save the Children Arshad Mahmood said that early marriages increased maternal mortality rate which at present was 276 per 100,000 live births, nationally.

“At this rate and with only less than 300 days left to the millennium development goals (MDG) deadline, Pakistan is not on track to meet the target of reducing maternal mortality,” he said.


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