IT would be ‘child bride’ season in rural Pakistan as soon as Moharram is over. Just like last year, this year too I have received several ‘wedding invitations’ through wedding cards, letters and mobile phone calls from my acquaintances and well-wishers belonging to rural Pakistan, particularly from Sindh and Balochistan.
Whenever I have asked about the age and the educational qualification of the bride and bridegroom, the answer has been that unlike big cities these don’t matter while arranging a marriage.
Regrettably, every year innumerable girls become child brides in rural Pakistan.
The majority of these girls do not receive any education or healthcare services.
I have heard that once a girl is married, she is at greater risk of domestic violence, more likely to get pregnant early, and more likely to die during childbirth.
Besides, she is more vulnerable to HIV.
I have seen many such girls in my home district of Larkana who by the time they are 18 have already given birth to two or three and sometimes even four children.
The federal and provincial governments concerned should ban child marriage in rural Pakistan.
Besides, the provincial governments must ensure that girls receive their basic rights, including a good education and access to health care.
In a nutshell, the Government of Pakistan must address this grave issue on a war-footing.