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October 12, 2018

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18 years as minimum age for girls’ marriage demanded

18 years as minimum age for girls’ marriage demanded

LAHORE: A large number of adolescent and young girls associated with different organisations and Pakistan Girl Guides Association have urged parliamentarians to play their role in raising minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18 years in Punjab through amending “The Punjab Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act 2015. This was demanded during an interactive dialogue between girls and parliamentarians in connection with International Day of the Girl Child which was observed by civil society organisations.

A rights movement’s coordinator Rashida Qureshi shared that on December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognise girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability, Ms Qureshi said.

Adolescent Girl Mahroosh urged parliamentarians to look into matter of increasing minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18 years, as current age is a clear form of gender based discrimination. She added that UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in its concluding observations in 2009 and 2016 has clearly recommended Pakistan to remove discrepancies between the age of boys and girls. Another adolescent girl, Afrozish, urged the effective implementation of Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan which guarantees for every boy and girl between the age of five to 16 years. If a girl is forced to marry at the age of 14 years, so that could be considered clear violation of Constitution of Pakistan as well as laws which are confirming right to education in Punjab and other parts of the country.

Fourteen-year old Shafaq presented a charter of demand to parliamentarians asking to expedite the process for addressing the menace of child marriage through legal amendments to ensure increase in girls age of marriage as this is violation of rights to survival and development, right to leisure and enjoyment of childhood, while on the other side this issue directly contribute in increasing the incidents of domestic and gender based violence. MPA Musarrat Jamshed Cheema from PTI fully endorsed the demands made by different groups of girls on International Day of the Girl Child and assured that she will soon table a resolution in Punjab Provincial Assembly to draw the attention of lawmakers to legislate around this important issue.

MNA and Federal Parliamentary Secretary Rukhsana Naveed assured her full consent to take up the issue to raise age of marriage from 16 to 18 years in National Assembly. There is nothing more important than to save the lives of our daughters and to protect their fundamental rights covered in constitution of Pakistan, the MNA said.

MPA Sadia Sohail Rana, Sumaira Bukhari, Raheela Khadim Hussain also supported the girls’ demands and pledged to address the issue of child marriage. They also proposed to launch a mass media campaign to aware masses on harmful effects of child marriage on a girl’s life. Representative of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Ms Tabeer shared the services being offered by PCSW in order to ensure the protection of women and girls.

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