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Women protection law needs interpretation: Age of puberty not determined, observes LHC

LAHORE, Feb 27: Observing that some provisions of the Women Protection Act 2007 required interpretation, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday sought assistance on a law point whether a girl aged under 16 could exercise her free will to marry someone after the enforcement of the law.

The court raised the point when Chiniot police produced a girl who, according to her mother, was 15 years old and, therefore, could not decide about her marriage.

The girl on the other hand told the court that she had contracted the marriage of her free will and no one had abducted her.

The court observed that the issue of puberty became meaningless for declaring a girl a sui juris when women took liberty from the promulgation of such laws.

The court asked why legislators did not determine the exact age of puberty.

Justice MA Shahid Siddiqui raised the question while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Kaneez Bibi of Chiniot, seeking recovery of her daughter Nazma.

The petitioner alleged that a man named Asif and his aides had abducted the girl.

The girl, however, deposed that she had married Nasir, a younger brother of Asif, of her free will.

Chiniot Sadar police had registered an abduction case under section 496-A of the Women Protection Act, 2007 on the complaint of Kaneez Bibi on February 1, 2007.

Counsel for the petitioner, Zubair Khalid Chaudhry, produced a birth certificate of the girl before the court, according to which she was 15. The court observed that the girl’s age was less than 16 and she could not be declared a sui juris.

The court also observed that rights of parents should also be considered, adding that such marriages would create disturbance because nobody could tolerate seeing a daughter being taken away.

The court adjourned further proceedings for March 14, directing counsels from both the sides to assist the court on the issue.

Source: Dawn

Date:2/28/2007

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