End to child marriage urged

  • Speakers want lawmakers to amend child marriage laws     

Child marriage should be prohibited and the legal age of marriage should be raised from 16 to 18, said experts in a seminar, aiming at strengthening efforts to make Pakistan a child marriage free zone.

The seminar was organised by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with Rutgers WPF, Pakistan and Preston University.

Dr Munaza Haris from Rutgers WPF, addressing the seminar said that child marriage is a crime and a great injustice.

It leads to social isolation and robs the educational opportunities from a child.

Pakistan is signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Children which defines child marriage below the age of 18 but the country allows marriages at age 16, she said.

Unfortunately, early marriage has adverse effect on children and it leaves them physically and socially vulnerable to illness, poverty, and gender inequality.

It increases the risk for depression, sexually transmitted infection, cervical cancer, malaria, obstetric fistulas and maternal mortality, she added.

Preston University’s Dr Shazia Khalid gave a presentation on global scenario on child marriages including prevalence and causes of child marriages.

She also talked about the challenges of child marriages in Pakistan and the efforts launched by the government to combat child marriages.

She urged the lawmakers to take notice and amend child marriage laws.

Access, Service and Knowledge (ASK) programme is being implemented in seven countries including Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Indonesia, and Pakistan designed on a holistic understanding of the factors that influence young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.