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Pakistan set to raise minimum marriageable age to 18 after govt says it has no objections

Senator Sherry Rehman presented an amendment to the child marriage act

SAMAA | - Posted: Jan 30, 2019 | Last Updated: 3 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jan 30, 2019 | Last Updated: 3 years ago

Senator Sherry Rehman presented an amendment to the child marriage act

Photo: AFP

A bill to raise the minimum marriageable age in Pakistan to 18 is destined for smooth sailing as the government has told the opposition senator who presented it that it has no objections.

Senator Sherry Rehman presented an amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 that states that the minimum marriageable age in Pakistan is 16 during a meeting of the Senate Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday.

Senator Rehman proposed that the minimum age be raised to 18.

Chaired by Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar, the committee approved her amendment and Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said the government has no objections to raising the minimum marriageable age.

Related: Saudi Arabia bans child marriage in landmark ruling

She said the bill has been sent to the cabinet for approval and will be presented before parliament for final approval next month.

Senator Rehman is a member of the PPP, which has already raised the minimum marriageable age to 18 in Sindh. Incidents of child marriage are common in Pakistan, she told the committee.

Many women aren’t ready even upon reaching the minimum age, she said, adding that Pakistan is ranked number two in child marriages in the world.

Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah of the PML-F said the Islamic Ideology Council’s opinion should be sought before the bill is put to parliament. However, his suggestion was opposed by Barrister Muhammad Ali Khan Saif of the MQM, who said there is no need to drag the Islamic Ideology Council into every matter.

Related: Young woman married off to 40-year-old man on jirga’s order in Mardan

Their opinion is not necessary for legislation, he argued.

Khokhar said that child marriage is a social issue in Pakistan. Passing this bill will send a good message from the Centre to the provinces, he said.

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