Child marriage restraint bill termed need of the hour

Myra Imran
Friday, Aug 26, 2022

Islamabad : Speakers at a consultation termed the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2022 as the need of the hour that aims to enforce the constitutional rights of children.

They were speaking at a consultation arranged by the National Commission on the Status of Women with the help of UNFPA and was addressed by Federal Minister for Human Rights Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada.

Different stakeholders and speakers were invited for their input and a broader discussion on the subject including the Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Law and Justice, Women Parliamentary Caucus, Legal Aid and Justice Authority, National Commission for the Rights of Child as well as representatives of Local Government.

The proposed bill will introduce some necessary amendments to the prevailing Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929. Child Marriage is one of the pressing human rights and in particular women's rights issues in Pakistan as the country is currently having the 6th highest number of child brides in the world (1.9 million). Different reports suggest that every year 21 per cent of girls in Pakistan under the age of 18 become child brides instead of getting a quality education and health facilities.

Speakers said that Article 25(2) of the Constitution ensures that the State may make special provisions for the protection of children. Further, Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) and is under obligation to enforce the provision of UNCRC.

This Bill will also strengthen efforts to implement the UNCRC. Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights, Syeda Nosheen Iftikhar also recommended inserting some provisions to this bill regarding the pre-marriage Thalassemia Test of intending spouses for the prevention of thalassemia in the country.

She said that the test reports must be annexed with the Nikkah Nama as there is a rise of 6000-8000 thalassemia patients annually in Pakistan where the number of blood donors is very less compared to the need of present patients. In his address, Federal Minister for Human Rights said that child marriage in Pakistan is deeply rooted in poverty and in centuries-old patriarchal traditions with devastating effects on girls. Child brides in Pakistan are at an elevated risk of sexual and physical abuse, reproductive health complications, and other adverse physiological and social outcomes.

He said that it was very necessary to have awareness among the masses on the issue, particularly in areas where the ratio of child marriage is high. People should be educated on the issue that attaining the marriageable age is the basic right for both contracting partners for their better physical and mental health and most importantly for bearing a healthy next generation. He committed to his unwavering support in the parliament for this bill.