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Child Marriage Act: Rights panels assail senators for rejecting amendment

Child Marriage Act: Rights panels assail senators for rejecting amendment

ISLAMABAD: The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday condemned the rejection of an amendment to the Child Marriage Act by Senate’s Standing Committee on Interior.

In a statement, the commission expressed disappointment on observing that despite the absence of Senator Sehar Kamran, mover of the bill, the committee voted against the amendment which suggests increasing the minimum age for girls to marry from 16 years to 18 years.

The commission said it was shocked to note that progressive senators like Tahir Mashhadi also voted against the amendment. It added that the irony was that the amendment was rejected on the International Girl Child Day.

The commission also expressed disappointment over the fact that the bill was rejected by the committee chaired by Senator Rehman Malik who represents the PPP which has played a leading role in approving Sindh Child Marriage Bill 2013 from the Sindh Assembly in 2013.

It described the amendment as vital for the future of the girl child in Pakistan, being directly linked to their welfare and protection.

“Early marriage thwarts a girl’s chances of acquiring education, endangers her health and cuts short her personal growth and development,” said NCSW.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch said that the Pakistani government needed to prohibit underage marriage, and remove the confusion between religious interpretations and federal and provincial laws.

“Pakistani girls need equality, decent education, and good health care. They don’t need husbands. On the International Day of the Girl, Pakistan’s parliament failed its girls once again,” said the rights body.

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