Traditions and social customs behind the practice of early marriage says PA members

Source:  Pakistan Herald Published in Morality on Saturday, October 25, 2014

LAHORE: Members of Punjab Assembly while engaged in a policy dialogue on the early and child marriages said that the practice had its roots in traditions, culture and social customs which has a very negative impact on their health and education careers.

Oct 25 marks the annual day of Girl Child 2014 and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with NGOs Bedari and Sujag Sansar had arranged for this dialogue in Lahore. The session was attended by Sindhi parliamentarians as well, who advised their Punjabi counterparts to pass a similar legislation such as Sindh Child Marriage Act 2013 which set the minimum age of marriage as 18 years old for girls. According to this act all girls should possess a National Identity Card (NIC) at least,before registering their nikah. Moreover, it stipulates a heavy fine of Rs300,000 and three years’ imprisonment in case of violation of this act. The participants were also informed that through the collaboration of Bedari and UNFPA, the Punjab Social Welfare Department had almost completed the drafting of Child Marriage Prohibition Act 2013. Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, the incumbent minister for Population Welfare chaired the meeting. She pledged her support for the Child Marriage Prohibition Act 2013 and promised that she would make every effort to get it passed through the assembly. She commented that it is the right of every girl to go to school, develop her talents and career and then have children later on.