ISLAMABAD: The chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), Khawar Mumtaz, expressed grave concerns over the recent recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) regarding the minimum age for marriage and second marriage.
The CII has recommended that the children of any age should be allowed to get married, if they have attained puberty. They also said that the consent of the first wife was not required before the second marriage.
In a statement issued to the press, NCSW chairperson pointed out that the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance of 1961 was promulgated after serious and in-depth deliberation by an eminent committee representing all schools of Islamic thought.
“CII should give its attention to curb the practices like vani, swara and karo kari. They should ensure that women get their due constitutional rights, instead of unnecessarily re-opening settled matters,” she said.
Ms Khawar drew CII’s attention to the fact that marriages in Islam are contracts between two consenting adults, and any recommendation that violates that basic principle is not acceptable.
Furthermore, it has been medically established that child marriages have damaging consequences for the health of young girls and their children and, therefore, must be avoided at all cost.She added that CII’s opinion is also in contradiction to Pakistan’s international commitments.
Khawar recalled that Pakistan is signatory of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW), which demands the prohibition of child marriages in article 16.
“The Convention contains a provision calling for the abolishment of any practices which are prejudicial to the health and future of children. Child marriage is connected to children’s rights, such as the right to protection from all forms of abuse, and the right to be protected from harmful practices,” she said.
“Forcing a girl to marry is a gross violation of human rights,” she concluded.