Monday, June 27, 2022

Bill raising minimum age of marriage to 18 approved by senate body

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee for Human Rights on Wednesday approved the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2018, ARY News reported.

The upper house of the Parliament had sent the bill tabled by Senator Sherry Rehman to the concerned committee for further debate and recommendations.

 

Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar chaired the standing committee session to discuss the bill.

Senator Sherry Rehman, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the upper house,  said that the proposed legislation is aimed at preventing underage marriages, the legislation was also passed in Sindh Assembly earlier, she said.

Senator Rehman called for explanation of the word ‘child’. “Childhood marriages are the cause of 21 percent deaths in children, Sherry Rehman said. Pakistan is second from top in the countries where child marriages are rampant,” she said.

She demanded ban on marriages under the age of 18 years.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari said, “We have no objection over the bill.”

Chairman of the committee Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said, “the committee approves the bill”.

The bill says that a minor would be a person under the age of 18, the legislation shall extend to the Islamabad Capital Territory and come into force at once.

The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill despite insistence by some religious political parties’ MPs to set marriage age at 12 to 13 years, was moved in the Senate and referred to concerned committee of the House.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan while not opposing the bill, pointed out that the bill recommended rigorous imprisonment, which should not be part of it. He said the advice of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) should be sought on the proposed piece of legislation.

The bill provides that a person marrying a minor is liable to pay Rs 0.2 million and serve three years rigorous imprisonment. Moreover, it states that a court, upon receiving a complaint, can issue a stay order to stall the marriage. Senator Rehman said that legislation should be made to discourage underage marriages.

She said that after every 20 minutes, a woman dies in Pakistan of maternity-related complications and that out of every 100 females, 40 percent are married below the age of 18. She read out part of a speech, delivered by the Quaid-e-Azam in 1929 against underage marriages in the then assembly, which led to passage of the Child Marriage Restraint Act same year.

She pointed out female-related issues were more alarming in Pakistan as compared to even Afghanistan and Yemen.

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