I CONGRATULATE the Sindh Assembly for unanimously passing the Amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, whereby the minimum age for marriage of girls has been raised from 16 years to 18 years, which is the minimum age fixed for marriage of boys under the Act.
Punishment for breaking the law can be imprisonment for two or more years. The Sindh Assembly is to be commended for having already passed the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act 2013, something which the parliament and the other provincial legislative assemblies have so far failed to achieve.
It requires courage to pass legislation which flies in the face of outrageous statements being made by ‘religious scholars’ to the effect that girls can be given in Nikah by their guardians at the age of nine years, while they can repudiate the marriage on reaching the age of puberty.
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) ruled that Pakistani laws prohibiting marriage of underage children (Child Marriage Restraint Act) are un-Islamic. The CII said there is no minimum age of marriage according to Islam. “Islam does not forbid marriage of young children,” the CII said. “However, the consummation of marriage is only allowed when both husband and wife have reached puberty.”
It had already been proposed by several women activist organisations that the minimum age of marriage under the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, should be raised from 16 to 18 years.
The other provinces of Pakistan, particularly the most populous province, need to follow the lead taken by Sindh. In Pakistan, which is considered Darul Salaam, it is within the legislative power of the state to enact laws that are beneficial for the citizens and which do not run contrary to the principles of Sharia. It requires courage and vision on the part of our elected representatives.
President, Concerned Citizens of Pakistan Society