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Child marriage bill referred to Senate body

ISLAMABAD: Despite insistence by some religious political parties’ MPs to set marriage age at 12 to 13 years instead of 18, Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was moved in the Senate and referred to concerned committee of the House for further deliberations.

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

He emphasised that marriage should be promoted unlike in the West where a trend of wedding was subsiding and being replaced with illegal relationship, running away from proper marriage.

He also proposed that judges should be given discretion on award of punishment on its violations. The bill was moved by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman. It says that a minor would be a person under the age of 18. It shall extend to the Islamabad Capital Territory and come into force at once.

It provides that a person marrying a minor is liable to pay Rs 0.2 million and serve three years rigorous imprisonment. Moreover, its 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.

Senators Mushtaq Ahmad of JI and Faiz Muhammad of JUI-F insisted that no effort should be encouraged against weddings, as it runs contrary to Islamic teachings. They also wanted CII input prior to its referral to the House committee. However, the bill was referred to the committee concerned.

Senator Rehman 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.

Former Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani also moved a bill to amend the Constitution ‘The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018, (amendment of article 27).’ The proposed legislation pertains to the quota system prescribed in the Constitution, 1973 to ensure representation of underdeveloped provinces, which expired on August 13, 2013.

“This amendment aims at providing 20 years extension to the time period prescribed for quota in the proviso of Article 27 of the Constitution. The objective is to provide a cover to the appointments made from August 2013 and reservation of quotas for further recruitment by the federal and provincial governments,” says the statement of objects and reasons. The bill was referred to the House committee.

Awami National Party Senator Sitara Ayaz also moved a resolution, which says, “This House recommends that the government should take immediate steps to ensure that complete name of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is used in official correspondence instead of its acronym, KPK or KP.”

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